On Wednesday, Elon Musk’s commercial space company SpaceX put four astronauts into orbit as part of Inspiration 4, the first all-private spaceflight mission. They make history and return to Earth three days later.Still apart Data collection The value of Inspiration 4 as a research mission to add to the powerful research on human health and performance in space is questionable.
While looking at the crew and mission, the notable game changer could instead be the SpaceX project underway in the background. The company envisions Starship to be a fully reusable transportation system. In May, the Starship SN15 became the first prototype of the system, launching 10,000 meters without catastrophe. Starship’s first successful orbital flight may come by the end of the year, and a monthly flyby using the system is scheduled for 2023.
If everything goes according to plan, the Starship System will exponentially reduce launch costs, heralding a new era of commercial space.Indeed, as the author of 2021 white paper A 10-year study of planetary science and astrobiology wrote, “The SpaceX Starship System will radically change NASA’s science, technology development and testing, and human space exploration paradigms.”
Starship promises are all about their size and their reusability. According to SpaceX, a 120-meter-high spacecraft will be able to be transported. 100 metric ton payload, With Maximum volume Of the existing launcher.And unlike other orbital launch systems, Starship is completely reusable, which masks launch costs. Pop about $ 2 million..
Wald Abdarati, director of the University of Colorado Joint Institute for Environmental Sciences, said launching a large telescope into space could cost more than $ 100 million, and lowering its price by two orders of magnitude would be immeasurable for remote sensing. It says it will not have any impact. Boulder. Putting the telescope and satellite payloads into orbit will help climate science in two ways, he says.]]] With a lifespan of 3 to 5 years, Starship can create a cheaper way to carry out sustained observations of our planet. Second, it could enable more ambitious scientific missions as part of the Earth Systems Explorer program, which limited each cost to $ 350 million.
“If the rocket consumes $ 60 million of it [$350 million] We’ve already reached a significant limit on our resources for real-world missions, “says Abdalati. “If Starship can reduce its launch costs, there is more that can be directed towards the scientific mission itself.” Astronomers have similar hopes.At least one proposed next-generation NASA telescope is already Scrutiny by SpaceX For the possibility of future Starship launches.
Indirectly, Starship could benefit the state of orbital and orbital science by returning space debris to Earth. Space debris poses a danger to rockets and operational orbiters. And according to Abdalati, the solution to reduce sky congestion is “very important.”Such cleanup missions could see the starship recover SpaceX Starlink System Dead Satellite As the numbers increased, critics said, in this case, even if the company wiped out its own orbital disruption and removed the dead Starlink satellites. Headache caused by mega constellation For astronomers on earth.
Depositing the payload and regaining others in orbit is an added benefit to Starship’s defined goal of carrying cargo to the Moon and Mars, and ultimately the crew, by ferry. According to a recent white paper that includes researchers from NASA and SpaceX on its author list, the company is currently planning to launch multiple unmanned starship missions to Mars every two years. Each time, we take advantage of the planetary arrangements that are particularly favorable for voyages. The author writes that without a crew, there is great potential not only to unload cargo on Mars, but also to bring samples back from the planet. And there are similar opportunities for transportation to and from the Earth’s moon. In this regard, especially the huge size of Starship is an asset. “Since Starship can return tens of tons of payload from the surface of the moon, the return sample mass of the moon sample from a single mission is the return sample mass of all moon samples from all previous sample return missions. It reduces the total return mass, “says the author. write.
However, it is important to investigate SpaceX’s core claim that starship can significantly reduce launch costs, said Pierre Lionet, head of research at Eurospace, an industry association for the European space industry. Lionnet, a profession-specific space economist, says that launching something into space costs a lot, so people often pay very much attention to launch costs.For example, the Rosetta spacecraft and Philae lander, which achieved the first soft landing on a comet girl in 2014, cost the European Space Agency almost. 1.4 billion euros (Approximately $ 1.7 billion), but its launch costs were less than 10 percent of the total bill.
The ratio of launch costs to the total cost of building and deploying satellites, telescopes, and other devices determines which organizations see Starship innovations of particular value, says Lionnet. “For businesses, reducing startup costs can dramatically change the economic equation,” he adds. “For science programs, not so many.”
And while the $ 2 million launch cost is eye-catching, that number doesn’t tell the whole story, Lionnet says. Since SpaceX is not a publicly traded company, it does not disclose all the costs put into Starship from the beginning to the creation and adoption of more than 12 prototypes. An army of designers and engineers. Starship will eventually have to recover these costs, Lionnet says. This may partially explain the breadth of the proposed application. SpaceX is promoting the system as an economical launcher for interplanetary ferries, space junk movers and large satellites. Point-to-point global transportation service You can send payloads and people anywhere on the planet in an hour.
“If tomorrow you open the burger joint and you tell me,’I’m very smart. My burger will be a dime instead of $ 1.50.’I want to know’where I’m going to buy meat mosquito. Where do you buy bread? How are you going to pay the people who work for you? That’s exactly what’s happening at Elon Musk, “says Lionnet.
Others, such as former NASA deputy administrator Lori Garver, have a more optimistic outlook on starship. In 2010, Gerber helped design a federal budget transaction that would fund NASA to build partnerships with commercial space companies. She says that the tenacity of the dreams of some millionaire starry universes often outweighs their unpredictability.
“Billionaires are a bit more risky than large aerospace companies, but I think there’s no doubt that they’re all in the long run,” says Gerber. “No one is going to give up.”
She added that it was Musk’s greatest interest to win a contract with the government, use Starship to support research activities, and offset the initial costs he incurred. Winning these contracts means that SpaceX offers a cheaper service than it can manage in-house, such as NASA, so there is a limit to how much SpaceX can charge federal clients. At the same time, Gerber says Congress will seek to redistribute the funds previously allocated to NASA’s launch costs as Starship launches payloads more efficiently than ever before. She adds that whether that money remains at NASA depends on the institution’s success in expanding into areas of public interest, such as climate solutions and anthropogenic space exploration.
“The more money we can get in the national interest, the more money we can get,” says Gerber. “The reason we stood up during the Apollo program was not” Oh, we want to see what the moon is made of. ” No, we went to defeat the Russians. So what is our quest today? “
In her opinion, Starship’s stated mission could serve as a quest for it. Zero G music performance As an aside, Musk uses the platform Establish a colony On Mars. If you agree with the value of the premise, everything you need to achieve this goal can be considered a valuable scientific abuse, Gerber says. And that’s not a new goal.
“When I worked for the National Space Society in the 1980s, our mission was to create a spaceflight civilization,” she says. “We don’t need that many leads to know that we can’t survive forever on this planet.”
https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/spacexs-starship-could-rocket-boost-research-in-space/ SpaceX Starship May Rocket Boost Research in Space