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SpaceX’s Starship May Fly for Just $2 Million Per Mission, Elon Musk Says

SpaceX's Starship May Fly for Just $2 Million Per Mission, Elon Musk Says 92

The big spaceship-rocket duo will use just $900,000 of fuel per launch.

SAN FRANCISCO — Each flight of SpaceX’s big Mars-colonizing spacecraft will have a very small price tag, if all goes according to plan.

The Starship system, which consists of a reusable 100-passenger spaceship stacked atop a huge reusable rocket known as Super Heavy, will use just $900,000 worth of propellant to get off Earth and into orbit, Elon Musk said here today (Nov. 5) at the first U.S. Air Force Space Pitch Day.

“If you consider operational costs, maybe it’ll be like $2 million” out of SpaceX’s pocket each time, Musk said during a conversation with Lt. Gen. John Thompson, commander of the Space and Missile Systems Center, Air Force Space Command, at Los Angeles Air Force Base.

“This is much less than even a tiny rocket,” Musk added. “So, it’s something that needs to be made.”

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An aerial view of SpaceX’s Starship Mk1 prototype, seen during Elon Musk’s Starship update in South Texas on Sept. 28, 2019.
(Image: © SpaceX)

During Space Pitch Day (which should be called Space Pitch Days, since it runs through tomorrow), companies try to sell Air Force brass on their space-related ideas. In keeping with this focus, Thompson mostly asked Musk about business stuff — how to spur innovation, how management and leadership styles shift as a company grows, and so on.

This may sound relatively dry to space geeks, but Musk injected some fun nuggets into the conversation. For example, the billionaire entrepreneur said he does “zero market research whatsoever,” striving instead to create the Platonic ideal of a rocket or car. (Musk is also CEO of electric-vehicle maker Tesla.)

If he pulls that off, then “people will want to buy it,” Musk said.

SpaceX's Starship May Fly for Just $2 Million Per Mission, Elon Musk Says 94
The Starship MK1 assembled at SpaceX’s build and launch facility in Texas.
(Image credit: SpaceX)

He also hyped Tesla’s new pickup truck, saying that “it looks like an armored personnel carrier from the future,” and announced that he had just finished watching the 1996 movie “Space Jam” (serially, during 15- to 20-minute morning workout stints on the treadmill).

Musk demurred when Thompson asked about his leadership qualities, saying he doesn’t consider himself an expert on leadership. Thompson urged Musk not to “sell himself short” in this regard, teeing up a self-deprecating joke that the billionaire jumped on.

“That’s true. There’s plenty of others doing that,” Musk said, referring to investors who are betting on the stock price of his companies (particularly Tesla) to fall.

Toward the end of the 40-minute conversation, Thompson gave Musk the floor to say anything he wanted to the audience of investors, engineers, entrepreneurs and military officials. The SpaceX founder and CEO took the opportunity to talk about something near and dear to his heart: the importance of fully and rapidly reusable orbital rockets.

This is the technological advance that will slash the cost of spaceflight by orders of magnitude, allowing humanity to become a truly spacefaring species, Musk has said repeatedly over the years.

“It’s absolutely profound to have a reusable rocket,” he said here today. “This is the holy grail.”

SpaceX's Starship May Fly for Just $2 Million Per Mission, Elon Musk Says 95
SpaceX founder and CEO Elon Musk chats with Lt. Gen. John Thompson, commander of the Air Force Space Command’s Space and Missile Systems Center, which is based at Los Angeles Air Force Base. The conversation took place in San Francisco on Nov. 5, 2019, at the U.S. Air Force’s first Space Pitch Day.
(Image credit: MIke Wall/Space.com)

SpaceX has been working to make this vision a reality, and the company has made considerable progress. SpaceX now routinely lands and reflies the first stages of its workhorse Falcon 9 rocket, and it’s doing the same with the heavy-lift Falcon Heavy, which has three launches under its belt. The company is now also starting to recover and refly payload fairings, the protective nose cones that surround satellites during launch. (There is still work to do, however; for example, the second stage of the Falcon 9 and Falcon Heavy is still single-use hardware.)

Starship and Super Heavy fit well into this grand vision. Both vehicles (the spaceship, like the overall architecture, is known as Starship) will be fully reusable, and each individual craft will fly many times before it’s retired, Musk has said.

These missions will be quite varied. Starship and Super Heavy are designed primarily to help humanity settle Mars, the moon and other deep-space destinations, but SpaceX wants the duo to take over all of the company’s needs eventually. So, if all goes according to plan, Starship will also launch satellites (perhaps starting as early as 2021) and maybe even clean up space junk and ferry people on point-to-point trips around Earth, Musk has said.

Being able to do all of this for $2 million a pop would be revolutionary. That would be the cost of each mission for SpaceX, to be clear; we don’t yet know how much the company will charge customers for a Starship mission (or “is charging,” for Japanese billionaire Yusaku Maezawa has already booked a round-the-moon flight on the vehicle, with a target launch date of 2023).

But, for some perspective, SpaceX currently sells Falcon 9 and Falcon Heavy launches for $62 million and $90 million, respectively. And those prices are considerably lower than similar services offered by SpaceX’s competitors.

Source www.space.com

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Space

Why the universe does not fit into science

Why the universe does not fit into science 108
Photo: YouTube

Science can be compared to an artist painting what he has never seen, or to a writer describing other people’s travels: objects that he has never seen, places where he has never been. Sometimes such scientific “arts” turn out to be beautiful and interesting, but most of them will forever remain only theories, because they are beyond human capabilities.

In fact, science has the right only to speculate: how our universe appeared, how old it is, how many stars and other objects it contains.

Universe model

Why the universe does not fit into science 109

How many stars are there in the sky?

With an unarmed eye, a person can see about nine thousand stars in the sky in one cloudless and moonless night. And armed with binoculars or a telescope, much more – up to several million. However, this is much less than their true number in the universe. Indeed, only in our one galaxy (the Milky Way) there are about 400 billion stars. The exact amount, of course, is not known to science. And the visible universe contains about 170 billion galaxies.

It is worth clarifying that scientists can see the universe 46 billion light years deep in all directions. And the visible (observable) universe includes the space accessible to our eyes from the moment of the Big Explosion. In other words, only this (accessible to human perception) space science refers to our universe. Science does not consider everything that follows.

It is believed that there are supposedly a ceptillion (10 to 24 degrees) stars in our universe. These are theoretical calculations based on the approximate size and age of the universe. The origin of the universe is explained by the Big Bang theory. This is why the universe is constantly expanding and the more time passes, the more complex the universe and its components become.

Why the universe does not fit into science 110

It is not entirely correct to consider and perceive this scientific theory “head-on”. Scientists always claim that that explosion was not exactly an explosion, and the point that exploded was not the only one. After all, it was everywhere, because space did not exist then. And in general – everything happened quite differently from what is described in the Big Bang theory, but all other descriptions of the origin of the universe are even more incredible and inaccurate.

Separate but interconnected

That which is beyond the reach of human perception is usually discarded by science, or recognized as non-existent. Recognizing one thing, science does not want to recognize the existence of the other, although everything in our world is interconnected and is not able to exist separately – by itself.

Each object of the universe is a part of it much more than an independent, separate object.

Any person, like any material object of our world, consists of components: organs, cells, molecules, atoms. And each of its constituent parts can represent the whole world. Separate, and at the same time connected with all the others.

However, science, as a rule, perceives all the components of the universe – people, animals, plants, objects, the Earth, the Sun, other planets and stars – as separate subjects, thereby limiting itself.

Why the universe does not fit into science 111

Even what is considered the visible universe, one of the atoms of which could be called our solar system, is not subject to the boundaries of human perception. But perhaps the atom is an exaggeration, and our solar system is not even an atom, but one of its elements!

How, being so far from the truth, can one reason about something with the degree of probability with which science tries to reason about the origin of the universe?

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Space

An unexplained wobble shifts the poles of Mars

An unexplained wobble shifts the poles of Mars 112

The red planet sways from side to side like a whirligig when it loses speed. The new study allowed scientists to notice that the poles of Mars deviate slightly from the axis of rotation of the planet. On average, they move 10 cm from the center with a period of 200 days.

Such changes are called the Chandler Oscillations  – after the American astronomer Seth Chandler, who discovered them in 1891. Previously, they were only seen on Earth. It is known that the displacement of the poles of rotation of our planet occurs with a period of 433 days, while the amplitude reaches 15 meters. There is no exact answer why this is happening. It is believed that the fluctuations are influenced by processes in the ocean and the Earth’s atmosphere.

Chandler’s wobbles on Mars are equally perplexing. The authors of the study discovered them by comparing data from 18 years of studying the planet. The information was obtained thanks to three spacecraft that orbit the Red Planet: Mars Odyssey, Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter and Mars Global Surveyor. 

Since Mars has no oceans, it is likely that the Red Planet’s wobbly rotation is due to changes in atmospheric pressure. This is the first explanation that researchers have shared. In the future, there should be new details about the fluctuations that have so interested the scientific community.

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Space

Possible “portals” to distant regions of the Universe found in space

Possible "portals" to distant regions of the Universe found in space 113

Scientists have found in space possible “portals” to distant regions of the universe. They could be some supermassive black holes in the center of galaxies. This is reported by the Monthly Notices of the Royal Society magazine. In theory, a spaceship can pass through such portals.

Russian scientists have found that black holes in very bright galaxies may be the entrances to these “portals” or “wormholes”. In theory, a spaceship can pass through such portals. However, they are surrounded by intense radiation, which negates the crew’s chances of survival.

The similarity between a wormhole and a black hole is that they have extremely strong gravity. However, as scientists believe, the body cannot get out of the black hole, falling beyond the event horizon, while the “wormhole” must have an exit somewhere else in space.

Possible "portals" to distant regions of the Universe found in space 114
Photo: 
NASA

So, experts say, the collision of two bodies inside a wormhole in images from space would look like an explosion. That is, the active galactic nucleus (AGN), which seemed to be such earlier, may in fact be the entrance to the “portal”.

Russian physicist Mikhail Piotrovich emphasizes that scientists still know little about the internal structure of the “wormhole.” Moreover, they are not even sure that such a phenomenon exists at all. In addition, the closest object similar to it is 13 million light-years away, so humans are unlikely to be able to reach it in the foreseeable future.

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