Humanity has always dreamed of space travel, whether it is to expand our reach and colonize other plants or to explore and find out the reason behind our existence. We’ve always had a very firm belief that one day, we’ll be out there, among the stars, traversing through galaxies. However, ever since the initial Moon landings, we haven’t really tried to send more manned missions to the Moon or Mars because of a multitude of reasons and restraints.
Over 50 years after the Apollo 11 Moon Landing, technology has evolved at an exponential rate and space travel seems much more feasible. Add to that the imminent threat to the human race due to climate change and we have a perfect reason to explore and colonize other planets.
SpaceX is ready for commercial space travel
Lately, we’ve been seeing a massive push towards space travel and potential colonization. Many big companies have taken up the initiative to be the first ones to reach Mars and have invested billions of Dollars into their space programs. SpaceX, led by Elon Musk, is one of these companies and is probably leading the Mars race at this point.
The company has brought an innovative approach to space travel with reusable rockets, cutting the costs significantly. SpaceX has also managed to successfully test and launch many of these rockets.
Eleven years after the Falcon 1 launch, which was the first private liquid-fueled rocket that made it into the orbit, we finally have an end result of all those dreams and testing. On September 28, the CEO of SpaceX Elon Musk presented the plan for the company’s Starship to launch into orbit in “less than 6 months”. Starship is a passenger spacecraft, which would take commercial passengers to the Moon, Mars and beyond.
Firstly, the name Starship sounds like a toy spaceship that we all played with as kids. It is super cool though and just tickles something inside you that makes you feel really excited for the future. At the Starship event, Elon Musk mainly focused on the history of SpaceX, providing little new details on the actual Mars mission. However, he did state that the work being done by SpaceX engineers is phenomenal and the pace at which things are improving, including design and manufacturing, is exponential, hence the 6 month target.
Elon Musk also said that the Starship prototype at display during the presentation would start off with controlled hops that would go up to 65,000 feet and then the company would eventually send the ship into orbit.
Starship itself, is a brilliant technological and design feat nevertheless. The ship is 50 meters long (164 feet) with a diameter of around 9 meters (30 feet) and has the ability to carry a payload of over 150 tons. This is done thanks to the company’s massive rocket called Super Heavy which is 9 meters wide and 68 meters long.
According to SpaceX, Starship will be the most powerful rocket in history. With up to 37 raptor engines (or less depending on the mission), the Super Heavy will be able to generate an unprecedented amount of propulsion. Earlier during the year, SpaceX decided to change the Starship material to steel, despite the initial plans to use carbon fiber. Musk explained that steel as a material is very resilient while also being extremely cost-effective, as compared to carbon fiber.
The future of space colonization
While we’re still not quite at the point of reaching other planets using the Starship, Elon Musk emphasized that we’re getting closer than ever to achieving that dream. “This is the fastest path to a self-sustaining city on Mars”, said Musk while talking about the Starship. He also said that Starship is the answer to all our questions and that it would allow us to inhabit other worlds to make life as we know it, interplanetary.
In addition to going to Mars, Starship will also be used for the space tourist trip to the Moon in the 2020s, which will be carrying billionaire Japanese entrepreneur Yusaku Maezawa along with a handful of artists.
At the end, Elon Musk reminisced about the first successful launch of the old Falcon 1, exactly eleven years ago, and said that if that launch had failed, it would have probably been the end of SpaceX. Now, eleven years later, here we are, with the ever-long dream of interplanetary space travel right within our sights.