SpaceX wants to build 1 Starship megarocket a day with new Starfactory

Feb 6, 2020
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If they want an even greater output, they should stop assembling in rings and switch to rolling out the steel in long strips horizontally on a ginormous welding table and stir-welding the edges into a fuselage-sized single sheet, welding down the stringers in contiguous lengths, lifting it up vertically with a gantry, and wrapping it around ribs, dome, common dome, etc., held in a jig. This simple description applies to boosters. Starship-proper would then add fins and and nose-section.

Given the huge horizontal floorspace of the factory under construction, all that would be needed for the above setup is vertical addition high enough to house the crane(s).

Two or three starships would be under construction simultaneously, and the arrangement would be highly amenable to automation.
 
Aug 5, 2023
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If they want an even greater output, they should stop assembling in rings and switch to rolling out the steel in long strips horizontally on a ginormous welding table and stir-welding the edges into a fuselage-sized single sheet, welding down the stringers in contiguous lengths, lifting it up vertically with a gantry, and wrapping it around ribs, dome, common dome, etc., held in a jig. This simple description applies to boosters. Starship-proper would then add fins and and nose-section.

Given the huge horizontal floorspace of the factory under construction, all that would be needed for the above setup is vertical addition high enough to house the crane(s).

Two or three starships would be under construction simultaneously, and the arrangement would be highly amenable to automation.
Ah, another armchair engineer.
 
Jun 8, 2024
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Elon is so far behind his promised schedule, and with such a huge need for refueling, that none of his promises should be taken uncritically. The government keeps lavishing money on him despite his many failures. More number crunching, please
 
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Sep 8, 2023
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What Musk is talking about is the upper stage, not the boosters. And they won't all be the crew version, either.
And, as always, his "prediction" is aspirational. It won't be soon. It is important to understand Musk-ese.

In the near term he will be building enough engines for two Starship v3 (9 engines) a month and 4 boosters a year. Which is enough for the near term markets. To get to one upper stage a day he'll need six more factories or 6x production rates.

Neither is imposible but it won't be soon.
 
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Jun 8, 2024
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Elon is so far behind his promised schedule, and with such a huge need for refueling, that none of his promises should be taken uncritically. The government keeps lavishing money on him despite his many failures. More number crunching, please
Starbase, Superheavy and Starship is privately funded. If not for SpaceX, we would still be paying the Russians to send our Astronauts to the ISS.
 
Jun 9, 2024
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This rocket impresses me in the technical sense. However, the words "at scale" and "10 million pounds of propellant per launch" give me some consternation. They aren't using hydralox; they're using methalox. Doing the math, it's something like 20 airliners burning their entire fuel loads in seven minutes all at once, in one place. Is it genuinely a good idea to scale this up until we're doing it hundreds of times a day?
 
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Elon is so far behind his promised schedule, and with such a huge need for refueling, that none of his promises should be taken uncritically. The government keeps lavishing money on him despite his many failures. More number crunching, please
Elon is often behind aspirational schedules. What is important is the aspirational aspect of the schedule and the fact that he is almost always directionally correct.

Whether a spaceship a day occurs in 2028 or 2034 is not really material. What is important is the fact that this skilled, knowledgeable and rich person has a vision of needing 1,000+ reusable spaceships! This is at least a 3 order magnitude change fron 2010. An incredible rate of change in 25 years or so in the sleepy space business.

It was way less than 25 years ago that 10,000+ satellite constellations were deemed economically and technologically impossible.

The important things are the goals and the money and effort being spent to achieve these goals.

Simply compare the time for Boeing to create a human transport capsule for existing rockets versus the Starship development cycle to date. Starship as a platform for heavy launch in single use mode is already finished. Most of the efforts going forward are for reusability.

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Starship in single use mode is now the most powerful rocket with a cost (not price) likely less than a third of any best case SLS cost scenario. This seems to have gone unnoticed.
 
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Starship as a platform for heavy launch in single use mode is already finished. Most of the efforts going forward are for reusability.

=======
Starship in single use mode is now the most powerful rocket with a cost (not price) likely less than a third of any best case SLS cost scenario. This seems to have gone unnoticed.
Absolutely.
And it is a game changer right there: single launch space stations, cheap space telescopes, large lunar and GEO platforms when you trade off payload for altitude.

And the system is still in prototype mode.

Worth remembering: SPACEX isn't just Musk. He has Shotwell and an army of top rank engineers. They are still building space launch infrastructure. Things get interesting once they pivot to building infrastructure in space.

Another point that gets neglected: we get live telemetry and high bandwidth video even during reentry because Starship isn't transmitting groundwards but *up* to Starlink. Not so minor detail. And if they have enough bandwidth for HD video, they clearly have enough bandwidth for a thousand sensors. Bound to make iteration easier.
 
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So many rocket launches reminds me of the proposal Wernher Von Braun gave at an international conference in the early thirties, IIRC. He proposed about 900 launches in order to provide enough material in space to construct several spacecraft for a Mars trip and back.
 
If you are going to compare schedule slippages, don't leave out NASA, which was originally supposed to be on the Moon again 4 years ago.

In terms of accomplishments for the dollar, SpaceX seems to be the real leader in the field.

Maybe if we knew more about China's spending and efforts, they would look competitive to SpaceX in terms of meeting their own schedules at reasonable costs.

But, they seem to be copying SpaceX design concepts, which is not a "leader" trait.
 
What you mean? Which decade?
Oops. Actually it was in 1951, not the 30s. [He would have been in his 20's in the 30's, so perhaps he imagined it. As a teenager, he "acquired a book...By Rocket Into Planetary Spaces (1923)".

[Wege zur Raumschiffahrt;

Wiki has an article under this title, as well as, Von Braun, of course.]


He presented his summary of a trip to Mars in 1951 to the 2nd International Congress on Astronautics in London. The plan for these "orbit to orbit" spacecraft included:

> 950 trips into space to supply materials.
>5 million tons of fuel delivering: 36,000 tons of fuel ; 70 men; several hundred tons of supplies and equipment.
>10 ships would be built. They would not likely appear the same as spaceships in comic books since aerodynamics is not an issue in space.
>600 tons of supplies would be used, not counting fuel.
> 3 ships would be streamlined and include large wings for landing on Mars.
> 2 of these ships would have their wings removed for return launches to the orbiting ships.
>150 tons of supplies for use on Mars.
>400 days was the estimated time on Mars.
>All would return to Earth.
>Round trip time would be 2 yrs. 239 days.
>Landing on Earth would involve atmospheric braking through a series of elliptical orbits (multiple braking events).

This info comes from a book I have: A Real Book About Space Travel, Hal Goodwin, 1952.... $1.95. :)
 
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This rocket impresses me in the technical sense. However, the words "at scale" and "10 million pounds of propellant per launch" give me some consternation. They aren't using hydralox; they're using methalox. Doing the math, it's something like 20 airliners burning their entire fuel loads in seven minutes all at once, in one place. Is it genuinely a good idea to scale this up until we're doing it hundreds of times a day?
Of course. "Climate change" is only for us plebs. Doesn't apply to politicians or others.
 
Demand isn't there for that many rockets without the big Mars ambitions. But unless Mars gets taxpayer funding - enormous amounts of it - SpaceX will make big rockets for a huge scale project that costs enormous amounts of money and Earth based resources that needs to be paid for. Plundering Tesla might cover X debts but it isn't close to funding a Mars settlement.

As a business strategy aiming impossibly high and falling short - merely dominating space launch services for Earth customers (ie mostly governments, ie taxpayer funded contracts) can work effectively. And maybe some kind of in-space manufacturing of high value material, pharmaceuticals or something with a solid commercial basis might actually emerge. But as some kind of charitable act that is supposed to advance humanity, no chance it can come to fruition. I am not convinced Mars colonization - a planned economy and society (never a good start) in conditions that make the most extreme deserts look inviting - even CAN work even with bottomless Earth charity. Anything that is dependent on sustained charity needs a lot better launch platform.

To call Mars colonization premature is being generous - we don't even have lists of essential mineral resources to support a micro sized advanced industrial economy to make what survival requires, let alone maps and plans for how to exploit them cost effectively.
 
I have yet to see a business model for anything farther away than geosynchronous orbit. Lots of science out there but no source of profit. Mining of asteroids is great for making things in outer space, but of no value here on Earth.
 
Ken, I agree with much that you say, but....

What abut Livingston?

"We chose to go to Mars. We choose to go to Mars and do the other things not because they are easy, but because they are hard. Because that goal will serve to organize and measure the best of our energies and skills, because that challenge is one that we’re willing to accept. "

Or was it about the Moon? ;)

How practical was the Apollo program?

If someday we discovery a way to travel to habitable exoplanets, we likely will need to have the capabilities that can be demonstrated in a extremely harsh environment.
 
There might be a HUGE demand for starships once perfected. It's the perfect military weapon. Our space force probably has plans for a fleet. And I'll bet others are closely watching and imitating this. Other military's have no problem quickly cloning our tech.

With a few distractions, several ships of marines could land before the area is aware of it.

By then, they might deploy troops at altitude, with personal flying suits. By the time they see the starship, the troops are already out.

Starship paratroopers.
 
There really isn't any good reason to climb to the top of Mt. Everest ,either. Some people die trying. But, so many people are doing it that it has trashed the mountain.

Many humans still seem to believe that humanity will be able to do anything if we decide to do it. At some point, we may need to learn as a species that isn't true - there really are limits to what we can achieve.

But, without trying, we will not know where those limits are, and if we are missing something that could have created success - because we decided not to even try.

While recognizing the apparent limits based on what we currently know, I still am not ready to accept that those limits are immutable if we try to find ways around or through them that we do not realize exist, today.

Currently, most space exploration efforts are aimed at scientific discovery and understanding. When we have exhausted our scientific curiosity about Mars and other astronomy objects, then we will know more than we do today. If nothing commercial develops then, we will have our answer.
 
I have yet to see a business model for anything farther away than geosynchronous orbit. Lots of science out there but no source of profit. Mining of asteroids is great for making things in outer space, but of no value here on Earth.
If resources valued at as much as $100m per ton here on Earth (platinum group metals that are known to exist in enormous quantities in asteroids) aren't worth the effort but sending stuff to Mars at $1m per ton to do something that returns nothing of tangible economic value IS... there is something very wrong.

I think it is the other way around - that mining of asteroids for Earth industry is the only thing I can see with significant commercial value. Most of what gets mined doing that will be for use in space - ie far more of an asteroid mining operation will be devoted to mining and refining to support mining and refining and (probably most of all) fuel/reaction mass for the required rocketry. But I doubt that is what you had in mind.

There is no independent space economy and no cutting Earth out of the loop. Without Earth there is no loop. Self reliant independence from Earth is supposed to be the end goal. It is not a viable starting point.

The things being done in space using space resources will still have to deliver profits to Earth investors one way or another or investment growth never becomes self sustaining. I can see how an activity that is nearly but not quite viable might become viable with lower cost materials from asteroids (eg asteroid mining itself) but what are those activities in space that will use asteroid materials and can make more money for asteroid miners than delivery to Earth would? I am not seeing any. How do they give returns to investors?
 

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