Innovation

SpaceX Starship: Incredible render shows how Mars rocket design is evolving

SpaceX's under-development rocket is set to soar, and a new render shows how the ship will look with the booster attached.

The Starship, SpaceX’s under-development rocket, looks set to stun.

On Tuesday, Supercluster shared a concept render of the Starship soaring past the clouds, supported by the giant Super Heavy booster. The image, which the outlet says comes courtesy of SpaceX, was spotted at the Satellite 2021 industry conference this week in National Harbor, Maryland.

The image shows one of SpaceX’s most ambitious projects in incredible new detail. CEO Elon Musk first unveiled the Starship’s predecessor in 2017, intending to take over existing Falcon 9 launches while enabling more ambitious missions. These include a city on Mars by 2050, enabled by the ship’s fully reusable design and ability to transport 100 people at a time.

The changes show how SpaceX’s design is evolving, as Musk himself said in March 2020. Musk regularly shares updates via Twitter on tweaks like the number of legs and number of engines. As the company gears up to host the rocket’s first orbital flight sometime within the next four months, the render recalls how the Starship that flies to Mars could look ever more different than previous iterations.

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Supercluster chief of content Robin Seemangal shared a photo on his Twitter page of the render on a poster. The photo suggests the poster is located outside the Chesapeake conference rooms.

Robin Seemangal's photo of the new render.Robin Seemangal/Twitter

The full-size rendering is here:

The rendering bears similarities to the one currently seen on SpaceX’s website:

The Starship render seen on SpaceX's website.SpaceX

The two images reveal several changes. The top window is now smaller, leaving more stainless steel toward the nose. This window has been featured in previous renders, showing concerts in zero gravity.

Musk’s post showing a concert in zero gravity.Elon Musk/Twitter

The new render also shows the grid fins extended out. These, as Musk explained in December 2020, will enable SpaceX to catch the Super Heavy booster as it returns to Earth using the “Mechazilla” tower.

However, the latest rendering is unlikely to show the final design. In August, Musk claimed that the forward flaps seen at the ship's top would be positioned further toward the windows. This will better enable the ship to complete the belly flop maneuver as it lands.

SpaceX did not respond to Inverse’s request for comment.

The Inverse analysis — SpaceX’s rendering is impressive. Perhaps most interesting is that it appeared at the Satellite 2021 conference.

The company sent three representatives to the event, including president Gwynne Shotwell. These appearances largely focused on Starlink, the company’s under-development satellite internet service. During the conference, SpaceX chief financial officer Bret Johnson confirmed that the company plans to launch satellites to cover polar latitudes in the “next couple of days.”

But the Starship’s appearance at the show was not irrelevant. If SpaceX plans to use the ship to cover existing Falcon 9 launches, it could mean that the company can launch far more than the 60 Starlink satellites packed with every Falcon 9 rocket. That could mean SpaceX builds out its constellation faster.

As the orbital launch approaches, it’s a reminder of how the Starship will affect practically every aspect of the business and accelerate its plans.

SPACEX STARSHIP ORBITAL FLIGHT: HOW DID WE GET HERE?

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