We've discussed Elon Musk's SpaceX Starship here before (Why SpaceX's Starship Is Made Out Of Stainless Steel, Space X launches and Lands, Elon Musk’s liquid silver stainless steel Starship ). The starship is part of Elon's ambitious plan to establish a permanent settlement on Mars, and recently more information has been shared on the topic.
The Starship is envisioned as a 180-foot-tall spacecraft, and Musk's latest description says it will be launched into orbit using the Super Heavy rocket booster, which is about 220 feet tall. The spacecraft will refuel in low-Earth orbit and carry 100 passengers and more than 100 tons of cargo to Mars at a time. Elon also decided to build the spacecraft out of stainless steel alloys instead of carbon fibre composites.
Elon's rationale for using stainless steel is that steel is about 67 times cheaper by weight than the lightweight but super-strong carbon fibre composite that SpaceX plans to use by the end of September. Steel is also easier to work with than carbon fibre, allowing for quicker prototyping and better able to withstand high temperatures.
"The Starship looks like liquid silver," says Elon Musk
"Large-scale entry, descent, and landing is something that NASA has been challenged by for decades. We've spent a lot of time and given a lot of thought to how we might do it at Mars. We've landed the metric-ton Curiosity rover - that's the biggest thing we've ever put down on the surface of Mars." Said Walt England, an aerospace engineer and the director of the Space Technology at NASA.
The spacecraft must fly through the atmospheres of Mars and Earth at 30,000 mph. At those speeds, the spacecraft must withstand temperatures of about 2,700 degrees Fahrenheit. To deal with this extreme temperature, Elon proposed an interesting solution, suggesting the usage of liquid fuel to cool the spaceships body during landing.
He explained that Starship will 'bleed' or 'sweat' rocket fuel through small holes in the steel shell, and this layer of liquid will take away the searing heat of entering the atmosphere.
"On the windward side, what I want to do is have the first-ever regenerative heat shield. A double-walled stainless shell - like a stainless-steel sandwich," Musk said. "You flow either fuel or water in between the sandwich layer, and then you have micro-perforations on the outside - very tiny perforations - and you essentially bleed water, or you could bleed fuel, through the micro-perforations on the outside. You wouldn't see them unless you got up close."
"To the best of my knowledge, this has never been proposed before," Musk said.
Who would have thorugh that Elon would have invented a sweating Stainless Steel rocket ship of the future! by the way... how do Astronomers organise a party? they Planet!