– Why is the current SpaceX challenge different than their solution going to the space station?

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I understand that SpaceX is able to deliver material goods and personal to the international space station.

I don’t understand why the design to take people to the moon is substantially different, and why it’s failing while getting to low earth orbit.

In: Engineering

8 Answers

Anonymous 0 Comments

The aim is to be able to land like a 100 tons of cargo on the moon, 400000 km away. That requires a much bigger rocket than delivering 8 tons to the ISS, only 400km away.

Anonymous 0 Comments

It’s the biggest and most advanced vehicle in history. It’s flown THREE times. THREE. And every time it’s gotten further and provided more data as well. Again I say; THREE times.

You don’t magically create the biggest most powerful ship and booster ever and just nail it on the first try.

Nothing like this has ever been attempted, and yet after only three flights they’ve made remarkable progress.

As for getting the the Moon, putting something into orbit at 200km is vastly different than a trip to the Moon at 360,000km.

Anonymous 0 Comments

The Falcon 9 rocket that SpaceX uses to transport astronauts and cargo between the Earth and the ISS can carry about 22 tons to low Earth orbit, which is about 250 miles up, and requires the spacecraft to reach a speed of about 17,200 mph.

The Starship is meant to get over 5 times as much mass (100 tons) to the surface of the Moon which is almost *240,000 miles away* (that’s almost 1000 times farther away than the ISS) and it has to reach of speed of at least *23,000-24,000 mph*.

In other words, it’s designed to carry much more stuff a much greater distance and it has to go a lot faster to do so. All that makes it a lot more complicated. Add on top of that that it’s using a lot of new cutting-edge designs that aren’t featured on the Falcon 9, which means there are a lot of things that have never been done before. Naturally, there will be failures as tests are done to iron out all the kinks.

Anonymous 0 Comments

The biggest difference is that  starship  is supposed to have a recoverable second stage, making the entire stack fully reusable. This is hard and has never been done before.  This time, they didn’t even try to get to the orbit, and the failures they had were in the parts that no other organisation was ever able to do (landing first and second stage).

Anonymous 0 Comments

SpaceX approaches the challenge of spaceflight completely differently to how, say, NASA does.

When NASA builds a rocket, they play it safe. The SLS rocket is derived from 40 year-old, proven, recycled Spaceshuttle technology, and they spent 15 years designing and building the SLS. And that’s because NASA is funded by the government, so any failure would be seen as a huge misuse of taxpayers money. NASA massively overspends ($2bn+ for every SLS rocket) and takes no risks.

SpaceX on the other hand is funded by private cash. It’s main goal is to get Starship working as fast as possible. And the best way to do this is to build quickly, take big risks, and fix problems as they arise.

The Starship rocket is also very cheap. It costs around $100m per unit (so, literally 20x cheaper that SLS) and it’s built using bleeding edge technology. Because of its private funding and different goals, SpaceX can afford to take risks that NASA would never be able to. And those risks will result in a rocket that is far more advanced, far cheaper, and built far faster, than anything NASA could ever build.

But it’ll probably take a few more explosions to get there.

Anonymous 0 Comments

Falcon 9 (current working rocket) is like a small SUV, it’s designed to carry smaller payloads

Starship (the one they tested today) is like a semi-truck, it’s designed to carry MUCH more supplies

Anonymous 0 Comments

SpaceX’s current rocket, the Falcon 9, can take a couple people and some gear to the ISS. Starship is bigger than the entirety of the ISS (by internal volume).

Anonymous 0 Comments

Its really isnt that different tbh but space is such a new fro tier that we are still at that point where we dont have a “general solution” for these things and everything is optimized and built around transporting a specific amount of cargo to a specific place for a specific time so “making it but bigger” is still a challenge.

Think of it like this, we currently only have trains instead of cars. If we need to get somewhere new, we cant just grab a car and make some modifications like different tires or engine and “drive there”, we need to build whole new infrastructure like train tracks power lines, maybe tunnels and talk to the city hall and get permits.