Boris Lvin (bbb) wrote,
Boris Lvin

comically insignificant

Regardless of what happens to Starship SN02, the fact that SpaceX is apparently building full-scale, (mostly) functional Starship tank sections from raw materials to the launch pad in a matter of a few weeks is incredibly encouraging for the next-generation rocket development program. As an external observer, it’s certainly disappointing to see an impressive piece of rocket hardware shredded in an evening after weeks of work, but that speed – and SpaceX’s willingness to accept failures at the scale of SN01 – suggests that each prototype is almost unfathomably cheap. Unofficial estimates peg the cost of SN01-like Starship prototypes at just several million dollars apiece, while the cost of the raw steel itself is so low that it might as well be negligible.

Even if it takes SpaceX 5-10 SN01-class failures to mature its South Texas rocket factory into a reliable machine and get to a point of stability and confidence with suborbital Starship flights, the total cost of that trial and error is comically insignificant relative to almost any other rocket development program in history. To be clear, SpaceX might benefit from going a little slower and refining Starship’s prototype design, but it’s impossible to know from an armchair. For now, the best available advice is to simply enjoy the show and view each potential test failure as just another small step along the path to Mars.

Дополнительно - репортаж Эрика Бергера и его интервью с Маском:


Let’s just step back for a moment to acknowledge how nuts this is. Starship is only the upper stage for SpaceX’s Super Heavy rocket, but it is arguably the most novel spacecraft ever built. No one has ever built a fully reusable rocket, and the second stage that goes into space is the hardest part. SpaceX remains a long way from making the interior of Starship habitable for humans on a journey to Mars. But even building a fully reusable vehicle that can lift 150 tons into low Earth orbit would be a marvel. That’s more throw capacity than the Apollo Program’s Saturn V rocket had.

And Musk wants to build one of these each week.

Compare that to NASA and its Space Launch System, the big rocket that the space agency has been developing for a decade and for which Boeing only recently completed a single core stage. This core stage is about 15 meters taller than Starship but lacks its complexity. NASA will, in fact, toss each SLS core stage into the ocean after a single use. And Boeing doesn’t have to make the engines, as the rocket uses 40-year-old space shuttle main engines. Despite this, and with nearly $2 billion in annual funding from NASA, Boeing’s stretch goal for building core stages is one to two per year... some time in the mid-2020s.

SpaceX’s stretch goal is to build one to two Starships a week, this year, and to pare back construction costs to as low as $5 million each.

“That’s fucking insane,” I said.

“Yeah, it’s insane,” Musk replied.

“I mean, it really is.”

“Yeah, it’s nuts.”

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