Innovation

SpaceX Starship: Concept art unveils a crucial part of Mars-bound ship

The Starship is designed to send humans further than ever into space, but its internal design is also a sight to see.

Starship, SpaceX’s under-development rocket for sending humans to Mars, is impressive both inside and out.

On Tuesday, freelance 3D artist Caspar Stanley shared on Twitter his render of an internal component of SpaceX’s vehicle. The image shows a dazzling octopus-like array of tubes emanating from the center, connecting down to 28 Raptor engines located below. The render shows the engine setup for the Super Heavy booster, which will work with the Starship itself to lift the ship away from the Earth.

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The image received a response from SpaceX CEO Elon Musk, who wrote: “Lot of plumbing!”

Caspar's Super Heavy post.Twitter

The image reveals one of the most interesting components of SpaceX’s Starship. Musk first revealed the predecessor to this ship back in 2017 under the name “BFR,” explaining how it’s designed to both replace SpaceX’s existing rockets like Falcon 9 and Falcon Heavy, while powering more ambitious missions like a visit to Mars.

The ship has three key features that make it ideal for visits to Mars:

  1. It’s fully reusable, which means it can land on Mars and fly again.
  2. It uses liquid oxygen and methane for fuel, which means astronauts can harvest resources from Mars, like water ice and carbon dioxide, and use them to create more fuel to return home.
  3. It can launch over 150 tons or 100 people to space at a time, meaning it can carry the large amount of equipment required to build those early refueling bases.

Stanley, a 21-year-old based in Denmark, hosted a live stream of his creative process on YouTube:

During the stream, he explained how he used a NASASpaceflight video as inspiration. The footage, captured by a website reporter that goes by the name “BocaChicaGal,” shows what is believed to be the propellant manifold for the Super Heavy booster. This feeds methane fuel to the Raptor engines from the downward pipe.

When will Super Heavy fly?

SpaceX has hosted five high-altitude flight tests with the ship portion of the Starship, but it has never flown the Super Heavy booster. That could all change this year, after a document earlier this month detailed plans to host Starship’s first orbital flight.

The flight, expected in the latter half of this year, will launch the Starship with its booster from the firm’s Texas launch site. Just under two minutes after liftoff, the booster will separate and land in the Gulf of Mexico. The ship will come to a stop around 60 miles off the coast of Hawaii, around 90 minutes after liftoff.

The Inverse analysis — Musk’s response to the fan render highlights his support of the SpaceX fan community. Previous renders have focused on the Super Heavy booster stacked high, the Starship carrying Starlink satellites, and its ability to support lunar landings.

SpaceX has also found itself at the heart of two upcoming reality TV shows, set to award lucky contestants a place on a Crew Dragon capsule flight. As the Starship is expected to host a trip around the Moon in 2023, Musk’s current approach to public engagement could be a sign of things to come.

THE STARSHIP’S JOURNEY, SUMMARIZED:

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