- exploring, developing, & settling the red planet -


Starship is SpaceX's super heavy lift rocket that it is developing with the ultimate goal of settling Mars. As of this writing, its engine is essentially developed. SpaceX has been moving forward very rapidly in a process of iterative development with the anticipation of an orbital launch in a year to two.

The most remarkable thing about the Starship design is that it designed to be completely reusable. SpaceX is already retrieving its first stages on its Falcon 9 rocket. It is generally believed that SpaceX will be able to retrieve the first stage (Super Heavy) of the Starship. That capability is largely considered a "given".

But retrieval and reuse of the Starship itself from orbit is considered to be a much greater challenge. Re-entry into Earth's atmosphere from orbital velocities places a lot of structural force on the craft as well as significant heating due to re-entry interaction with the atmosphere. The Space Development Network believes that it is possible for SpaceX to retrieve and reuse its Starship but that there might be several setbacks (i.e. explosions) along the way.

The Starship is designed to take about 100 metric tons to orbit. SpaceX plans on launching tanker versions of the Starship so as to refuel the empty propellant tanks while in orbit. The Space Development Network believes that it is highly likely that SpaceX will be able to dock, connect, and transfer propellant. So 100 tons on trans Mars injection (TMI) seems like a probability. This architecture is amazing as 100 tons per Starship launch seems like sufficient payload to deliver the hardware and crew to Mars necessary to use local resources to bootstrap the development of a permanent base leading to settlement.

SpaceX's Starship offers a very cost-effective approach to Martian development and settlement.

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