#space #spacex #starship #range #astronomy
How far can we go in a SpaceX Starship?? Let’s take a look at what the Starship can actually do, when it comes to humans exploring our solar system.
Elon musk wants to send starships to Mars obviously, but what about missions to Jupiter, or Saturn, or even beyond that? The answer can be found in the rocket science, and the first thing you need to know is that the SpaceX Starship is heavy. Just by itself, completely empty, it’s 120 tons. Now that’s already the weight of about 40 cars stacked on top of eachother, and we call that the Starship’s dry mass.
But 120 tons gets more than doubled, if the payload bay is filled with 150 tons of… well, you know payload – whatever’s paying for a given mission. Let’s say we’re trying to send 5 people to Jupiter and back. Let’s just quickly, and for example, allocate 150 tons of payload for them, including their own body weight. You got 10 tons of oxygen, 20 tons of water, 10 tons of food, and so on. You get the point.
So now we have 270 tons total, but the starship is on the launch pad with its propellant tanks empty. To fill all the tanks, we need to add a whopping 1230 tons of liquid methane and liquid oxygen, giving us a starting weight of 1500 tons. And that’s just for the Starship, we’ll talk about the booster another time which gets even more propellant than that, filled up inside of it.
Once the booster lifts the starship through the thickest parts of our atmosphere, and gives it a big push on its way to orbit, the Starship will spend almost all of its propellant to get to orbital speed, which is 7.8 kilometers per second, now this is a velocity that is required by any spacecraft that aims to not only get to space, but also remain in space and not fall back down, like the suborbital rockets that are now bringing billionaires into a weightless euphoria.
But the Starship doesn’t use every last drop of propellant getting to orbit. For a normal starship mission with the parameters stated above, once in orbit, there will be just enough propellant left over in the main tanks to perform a deorbit burn, and then there are the special and separate header tanks that hold 30 tons of propellant, reserved only for the propulsive landing, because remember, bringing starships back safely and reusing them is a big part of what makes the SpaceX Starship such a game changer in the world of spaceflight and space exploration.
So how exactly are we supposed to explore the solar system, if our starship is effectively running on empty and is still in low earth orbit?
Well that’s where refilling comes into play.