Elon Musk is a man of many projects, you may be forgiven for assuming some of his ambitious plans, are just that - plans. But on Sunday Musk tweeted a photo of a prototype of a ‘starship’ a vehicle intended by Musk to make space travel a possibility for many.
The image has been commented on by many to look weirdly retro-futuristic, or for some, it almost looks too basic and cartoonish.
The image tweeted out is not a full-size prototype, though it will be about this diameter. But Musk predicts the Starship will be much taller, eventually towering over Falcon Heavy.
Stainless Steel Starship pic.twitter.com/rRoiEKKrYc— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) December 24, 2018
Stainless steel starship will be resistant to buckling
The caption for the Tweets images reads ‘Stainless Steel Starship’ and it is expected the durable materials will be used for most of the spacecraft construction.
Though much heavier than carbon fiber which is what Falcon 9 is made from. Stainless Steel offers a much more robust surface that will be needed to withstand the pressures of long-duration space flight.
The material Musk will choose won’t be your earthbound stainless steel but a mix of new alloys and design that will elevate it above previous stainless steel rocket designs.
Musk says rocket design is “delightfully counterintuitive.”
The heavy-duty metal will help the rocket withstand bucking, particularly when on the launch pad and not pressurized. The use of stainless steel marks the point in the design journey when Musk threw away the typical blueprint and began anew with a design he dubbed as “delightfully counterintuitive.”
It was at this point that he also reamed the project from Big Falcon Rocket to Starship. Musk has indicated before that he thinks they will go with power from three raptor engines, which he also added were “radically redesigned.”
BFR will take you anywhere on Earth in less than 60 mins https://t.co/HWt9BZ1FI9— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) September 29, 2017
The SpaceX website describes the project as:
"SpaceX's Starship and Super Heavy Rocket represent a fully reusable transportation system designed to service all Earth orbit needs as well as the Moon and Mars. This two-stage vehicle—composed of the Super Heavy rocket (booster) and Starship (ship)—will eventually replace Falcon 9, Falcon Heavy and Dragon. By creating a single system that can service a variety of markets, SpaceX can redirect resources from Falcon 9, Falcon Heavy and Dragon to Starship—which is fundamental in making the system affordable."
Other interesting design features to note is that when completed the Starship won’t be painted, as it will get too hot for that. It might get a glossy finish for maximum reflexivity but for now, the hard metal contributes to the retro-futuristic vibes.
Musk thinks the prototype will be ready for test flights as early as March next year when he will update the world on the rest of his plans for making the human race interplanetary.