Innovation

SpaceX Starship: stunning fan render draws the attention of Elon Musk

SpaceX CEO Elon Musk responded to a fan-made rendering of the company's most ambitious ship.

ErcXspace/Twitter

The Starship, the ship designed to send humans to the Moon and Mars, will cut a dramatic silhouette as it launches into the night sky.

We don't know precisely what Starship will look like once it is complete. But the rocket's impressive design has captured fans' imaginations.

A new rendering has captured, SpaceX CEO Elon Musk's attention, too. Produced by Sweden-based Erik Corshammar, who goes by the name "ErcXspace" on Twitter, the render shows the stainless-steel ship lifting off with the help of the Super Heavy booster, its shiny exterior glistening in the light. The user captioned the image with "Starship Enterprise," a tongue-in-cheek reference to the infamous spaceship from the Star Trek series of the same name.

"Great render," Musk wrote on Twitter in response.

He also gave the artist a small pointer for any future renders.

"Note, there will need to be an arm that lifts booster to launch stand & ship to booster."

The response sent thousands of Musk's 39.2 million followers to Corshammar, who has just under 4,000 followers. At the time of writing, his rendering has more than 10,000 likes. Corshammar, who visited the Kennedy Space Center as a kid, tells Inverse it's "pretty difficult to believe that Elon Musk himself has been commenting and supporting my work, as he does with many other creators over here on Twitter as well."

"What I am really impressed by is how much time and care he spends interacting with the space community, which I believe has been a big contributing fact to the growing excitement about space in general," he says.

It's an exciting time for space travel. SpaceX plans to use its ship to send humans to the Moon, Mars, and beyond. Starship is fully reusable, and capable of sending up to 100 people or 150 tons into space at once. Its liquid oxygen and methane fuel means people can fly to Mars, refuel using the planet's resources, and either venture out further, or return to Earth.

Oh, and it measures around 400 feet tall when paired with the Super Heavy booster – nearly double the height of the Falcon 9.

The render in action.ErcXspace/Twitter

So what is this arm that Musk mentioned? It doesn't appear in this rendering, but SpaceX has previewed it in one of their own concept art pieces. A Twitter user called "RenataKonkoly" noticed the arm appears in a 2016 video from SpaceX.

The video shows an earlier phase of Musk's Mars plans, unveiled in 2016 at the International Astronautical Congress in Guadalajara, Mexico. The video demonstrated the Interplanetary Transport System, which would send humans to Mars using a ship and booster. After launch, the booster would return to Earth and an arm on top of the pillar would be used to lift a new ship onto the booster.

For his part, Corshammar is hopeful that his art plays a role – however small – in the emergent space race.

"As a space enthusiast, I can do nothing more than cheer on the current effort of taking humanity on new voyages, and I hope that my small contribution to the community can lead more people to become excited about space again," he says.

The Inverse analysis – Musk's comments are the latest in a series of shout-outs to creators in the wider space community. The CEO previously drew attention to work from South Australia-based artist Alex Delderfield, Twitter user "C_Bass3d" and Minnesota-based Bart Caldwell – more popularly known in the community as "Neopork."

A common theme among these designers is they're all passionate about the new era in space exploration, and in particular the striking visuals of the Starship. Similar to how the Falcon Heavy launch captured the public imagination with the visual effect of a car going into space, the first Starship launch could have a similar effect. This could be just the beginning of a newly-enthused wider community.

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