SpaceX Holds First Starship Update In Two Years

“It is very important, essential, that over the long-term that we become a multi-planet species and, ultimately, even go beyond the solar system and bring life with us,” Elon Musk said Thursday. [File Photo Courtesy: U.S. Department of Defense]

Thursday night, SpaceX held its first Starship update since 2020, featuring its owner, Elon Musk, who took the stage in front of the towering rocket in Boca Chica, Texas.

During the event, Musk shared SpaceX’s vision for the next few years, including: 

  • Raptor engine development
  • A new production and launch site at Cape Canaveral
  • The world’s largest heat shield.

“It is very important, essential, that over the long-term that we become a multi-planet species and, ultimately, even go beyond the solar system and bring life with us,” Musk said.

For years, Musk has come under public scrutiny for using his exorbarate wealth on space travel, rather than more “earthly” issues.

“...I completely agree that the vast majority of resources should be dedicated to solving problems on Earth, absolutely,” Musk said. “I’d say more than 99 percent of our resources should be oriented towards solving problems on Earth.”

Musk went on to illustrate how NASA’s annual budget is only 0.36 percent of the United States’ federal budget.

One of the biggest draws toward private space companies is the speed at which they can conduct operations. Many refer to NASA as “moving at the speed of Congress.”

According to SpaceX, Starship is designed to be the “first step” toward becoming a multiplanetary species, using the breakthrough technology of rapidly reusable rocket systems. SpaceX has proven its track record with rockets such as the Falcon 9.

“It’s insanely hard to get a rocket to orbit…and we’ve had 144 successful launches, 106 landings…and 83 flight-proven launches,” Musk said.

SpaceX plans to conduct 50 launches in 2022.

Coming Soon

As for SpaceX’s near future, the company plans to begin testing its “orbital refilling” system late next year. The system will be capable of refilling almost 200 tons of oxygen, necessary for its planned trip to Mars.

According to Musk, Cape Canaveral will likely end up as SpaceX’s “Starbase,” where Starship will launch and return. The company also plans to convert oil rigs into oceanic space ports.

Musk touted SpaceX’s Super Heavy rocket as “the largest flying object of any kind,” with more than double the amount of thrust generated by NASA’s Saturn V rocket. The booster is outfitted with 29 Raptor engines, but will be increased to 33—the maximum they could fit under the rocket.

Starship will be equipped with the world’s largest heat shield, utilizing techniques used for roofing tiles. According to Musk, the heat shield is capable of withstanding extreme temperatures and is “not crazy expensive.”

Musk also noted that NASA selected Starship to take astronauts back to the moon for the first time in half a century. Starship will be used in conjunction with NASA’s Space Launch System (SLS) and its Orion spacecraft.

"With this award, NASA and our partners will complete the first crewed demonstration mission to the surface of the Moon in the 21st century as the agency takes a step forward for women’s equality and long-term deep space exploration,” said Kathy Lueders, NASA's associate administrator for Human Explorations and Operations Mission Directorate. 

“This critical step puts humanity on a path to sustainable lunar exploration and keeps our eyes on missions farther into the solar system, including Mars.”

Jeremy attained his bachelor's in journalism and emerging media from Kennesaw State University. He also served in the Georgia Air National Guard as a C-130 Crew Chief for six years, holding an associate in aircraft maintenance technology.

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