SpaceX is exploring three options for the launch site of Starship, the company’s latest rocket designed to send humans to Mars, that is under construction in Texas. The rocket is fully-reusable and can carry up to 100 people (or 150 tons) into space in a single launch. This is another spacecraft that the company is reusing after the Falcon 9 and it may even go further than that: Elon Musk said that he would like to use the ship three times in a single day.
As shared by Musk on Twitter last Sunday, the company hasn’t yet settled on an option to launch the first few flights of the rocket. Specifically, he was referring to the flights that will take off with the Super Heavy booster, which would allow them to leave Earth’s atmosphere and enter orbit. SpaceX’s construction facility in Texas, a launchpad in Florida, and spaceports in the ocean are the three options.
Pursuing all three. Hard to say right now.
— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) June 7, 2020
Elon Musk’s response.
BFR was the name that the rocket was announced under all the way back in September 2017. One of its best features is the fact that it is multi-purpose. It’s reusable, so it can replace Falcon 9 and Falcon Heavy in satellite launches. One potential client the company could have in 2021 is a telecommunications firm, according to a SpaceX executive. Based on the comments made by the firm, the first project may be to launch satellites.
The rocket is also suitable for achieving more ambitious aims- from creating a settlement on the moon to facilitating trips to Mars. Given its capabilities, it’s unsurprising that SpaceX declared this mission to be its top priority.
Texas is in the running for Starship launch sites. The Boca Chica facility located in the state was first designed keeping the requirements of Falcon 9 and Falcon Heavy in mind. But as Musk explained in a conference call in May 2018, the site may now solely be used for Starship launches as the other spacecraft can be launched in SpaceX facilities in California and Florida. As exciting as the debut blastoff would be, there is some friction the company is facing with homeowners in the area.
This is a historic state for launches, with its 39A launchpad in the Kennedy Space Center having been used to send the first humans to the moon.
SpaceX also has a vast history with using this launchpad, with 22 of its flights having taken off from this site. It’s second only to the launchpad in Space Launch Complex 40, Cape Canaveral.
More importantly, you might even recognize 39A as the launchpad that Crew Dragon, which sent 2 NASA astronauts to the International Space Station, took off from. This was the launch that rendered SpaceX as the first private company to send humans into space. It even broke the dry spell in human spaceflight that the US has been in for the past 9 years. This makes us wonder, what records will the Starship break?
Musk envisions building spaceports in the ocean to support Starship flights. They would be located about 20 miles from the shore to prevent noise pollution.
The ports would be dispersed all across the world to send people to space. Each flight would carry about 1,000 people and customers can access them from the major cities in their country.
How will the spaceports be linked to the cities? Musk has built an empire spanning across various fields- including transportation. Hence, he would have to look no further than his own projects: the Hyperloop which can travel at a speed of up to 700 mph. With some inter-organizational collaboration, Musk may just be able to achieve the impossible- both on Earth and in space.