Speaking at a conference in mexico, some five years ago, elon musk said that history is going to bifurcate along with two directions. One path is we stay on earth forever and then there will be some eventual extinction event. He has consistently spoken about his lofty dreams of developing habitable cities on mars to make it possible. He required a space vehicle that could undertake the task of sending people to the red planet and it happened to materialize in the shape of a starship, which is a rocket that could ferry more than 100 people simultaneously. Starship will be powerful enough to launch itself off both the lunar and martian bodies, but it needs super heavy to get off the much more massive earth. The two part system comprises of the top part, which is a starship rocket standing ever tall at 120 meters or ‘4 feet on a reusable booster called the super heavy. Now that you know their names, we can trickle down to the technicalities of the system and explore the brilliant engineering behind it, powered by raptor engines that burn methane as fuel, a fancy, nose, cone and landing fins and a capacity to carry at least 100 000 kilograms Of payload to low earth orbit the system resembles one from a science comic and seeks excellence by all means. The six engines allow combustion to take place in stages and their design cuts down the wastage of the propellant which is stored in the propellant tanks placed in the middle of the vehicle known for unpopular decisions.

Musk chose methylx as fuel for the rocket engine, which is basically a combination of methane and oxygen, as it can generate a lot of thrust. Another explanation behind the decision is that a mars oriented game plan required a mars suitable solution which must came up with, in the form of the rationale that methane could be synthesized from martian, subsurface, water and atmospheric carbon dioxide, using the saboteur reaction. This in turn makes the entire ambition less costly, as using martian resources could help reach a modest level of self sufficiency. The upper part can house cargo and people, but the bottom one. The booster is where things get interesting. Like the former the 70 meter tall booster 2, will be filled with 3 400 tons of chilled methylx and would be powered by raptor engines. Though the number of engines keeps updating. It is safe to suggest that the engineers would provide more than 18 million pounds or mega newtons of thrust, which would enable the system to carry greater payloads to leo. This will make super heavy more powerful than the immense saturn v launcher used for the apollo moon missions in the 1960s and 70s when the upper stage detaches in space, the super heavy boosters flip over and head towards the earth during the descent. The super heavy deploys a steel grid fins from its sides, which helps steer the rocket stage back to the launch pad. Initially, musk and spacex wanted to ignite the booster’s engines to guide it to a landing on six steel legs like they did with falcon 9, but it didn’t take them long before they had a change of heart, announcing it from his twitter account.

Elon announced that he now intends to catch the booster in the air by using an arm on the launch tower now. This may sound like an absurd idea to the layman, but with rocket lab going ahead with similar ambitions with their electron rocket. Spacex might end up nailing the final nail in the coffin of the naysayers. The interesting setup also allows for orbital refilling to be made possible, as the upper stage could be inserted into a parking orbit after separation, where it can be refilled with propellant. Addressing a keynote speech in 2017 musk boasted that even if he gets the starship to orbit without any refueling, you will get around 150 tons to low earth orbit, which is pretty amazing for such a setup without any overall refueling. We expect to have a payload capability of 150 tons to earth orbit to refuel. The spacecraft would simply go ahead and dock with another starship. That would function as a propellant depot and would be there circling mother earth already musk emphasized that you can utilize control thrusters to accelerate in the direction that you want to empty to transfer propellant, which would then be a piece of cake for the mating starship. For lengthy and arduous trips, which can take up to nine months to and from mars, musk is looking to install around 40 cabins in the payload area near the front of the upper stage where each cabin would be able to house around 5 or 6 people.

That can make the starship carry people to destinations in the cosmos, including fancy planets like jupiter, which is a long term. Project starship might also play a role in nasa’s artemis program, which aims to establish a long term. Human presence on the moon and nasa cannot help but be intrigued by the ambition like all of us and has awarded a 135 million us dollar contract to spacex to upgrade its functionality to that of a crude lunar lander last year, which is a big achievement for Musk and his team, however, it comes with a design change that lacks the flaps, which are necessary for a journey back to earth. Instead, the starship human landing system would remain in space after its initial launch from earth to be used for multiple trips between lunar orbit and the moon’s surface. Such a system could even be used for high speed journeys between different destinations on earth, which will ensure that spacex would have to reach a high level of precision and give a tough time to aviation companies. When it comes to the travel times on offer. And as no move comes without a downside, musk’s company has made the starship enter the atmosphere at a 60 degree angle in a belly flop manner, which is too reliant on it, which has fueled skepticism. But he has tacked it by assuring that he is trying to create a drag rather than a lift, as the starship approaches the landing.

It should then be able to flip the vehicle into a vertical position after executing an engine burn and using the raptors, which shows that musk has done his homework and is not intimidated by the complexity of the task or the number of failures with starship landings. And is completely focused at launching one of these vehicles soon enough, starship and super heavy will start flying soon. If all goes according to musk’s plan, the billionaire entrepreneur recently said that spacex aims to launch starship to orbit sometime this year and that he envisions the starship super heavy duo being fully operational by 2023. Now, whether he is able to fulfill his dream by then or not elon musk has reiterated the fact that there is no end to human greatness and creativity.