July 28, 2021

More information about the Starship wonder rocket from Elon Musk

The first rocket stage “Super Heavy” consists of 36 welded steel elements. (Photo: SpaceX)

The first orbital flight of the monster spaceship is imminent. Meanwhile, SpaceX founder Musk reveals new ways and communication systems.

After the landing attempts of various Starship prototypes, which succeed or not, it now goes into space. Musk’s space company SpaceX plans to launch the giant rocket in July. The flight permit is pending, according to Golem. In addition, the engineers have submitted an application for the planned radio operation to the responsible licensing authority FCC. It was she who authorized the launch of tens of thousands of Starlink satellites. The plan: The spaceship also makes use of their network. This should make possible what has never worked before: radio transmission during re-entry. Other solutions are also new.

Starlink helps Starship communicate

SpaceX has set out to ensure a high-bandwidth radio link throughout the flight. The re-entry phase is a critical point: the heat ionizes the ambient air. This creates an electrically charged plasma that radio waves can hardly overcome. There is only one place where this barrier, which acts like a Faradya cage, does not exist. In the past, however, it was difficult to establish contact via the position at the stern. This could change now. First, as the number of satellites increases, so does the chance of finding a remote station. Second, the flexible antennas of the internet satellites can be aligned accordingly. SpaceX plans to try this out in orbit at the end of its maiden flight.

Super Heavy has 33 engines in use

12 swiveling and 21 rigid propulsion units are supposed to drive the first stage, which bears the significant name Super Heavy. The booster is 65 meters high and nine meters in diameter. When fueled, the colossus weighs around 5,000 tons. On the other hand, according to Musk, there are 7,600 tons of thrust, because every Raptor engine supposedly generates 230 tons – if that succeeds, it is by far a world record. Just for comparison: the Ariane 64, which has been under construction since 2019, with four solid fuel boosters, manages “only” 1,836 tons. The largest launcher is currently planning China with 140 tons of payload in low earth orbit, followed by Boeing (105) and SpaceX with around 100 tons. However, the competitors are not recyclable and their maiden flight is still a long way off.

Starship with vacuum-optimized nozzles

The second stage of the rocket, the actual Starship spaceship, will receive three swiveling Raptor engines and also vacuum-optimized versions. They have larger nozzles because the air pressure in the atmosphere only allows small nozzles. Your big siblings could better use and direct the pressure of the jet. The thrust performance is still under discussion. Smaller outlets would be more efficient, but then the Starship would need more engines. However, every engine presents new challenges. A doubling to six should be under discussion. What the Starship will look like in the end cannot be said either. Apparently SpaceX is still working on some changes.

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