The head of SpaceX Ilon Musk told him thatThe company is thinking over the idea of using the Starship spacecraft being developed as a suborbital hypersonic vessel for carrying passengers between different cities of the Earth. According to the updated concept, voiced by Mask on Twitter, Starship, which is the second stage of the super heavy Super Heavy rocket, will be able to take off and land on its own without the first stage. Such an approach, according to Mask, will significantly simplify the concept and reduce the cost of such flights.
The last few years SpaceX has been developingsuper heavy rocket. In "girlhood" the rocket was called BFR, and now it is called Starship and Super Heavy. According to the current concept, the creation of a fully reusable two-stage carrier with the possibility of landing both stages after the withdrawal of the payload is meant. In the future, the rocket is planned to be used to deliver cargo and people to near-Earth orbit, as well as in missions for the colonization of the Moon and Mars.
How to get to anywhere in the world in an hour?
Back in 2017, SpaceX voiced the ideause of a two-stage version of the carrier as a passenger suborbital transport, which will be able to deliver people anywhere in the world in just 30-60 minutes. It was assumed that the rocket will initially take off as usual. Then, after the separation of the steps, the first one should land on the cosmodrome or the offshore platform, and the second with passengers on board go to the offshore platform in another city and also land. Passengers between the sea landing platform and the city were offered to be delivered using high-speed transport.
By and large, this concept is at leastat first glance it seemed workable, but nevertheless there were some technical and practical issues to it. Fortunately, with the development of the most super-heavy BFR launch vehicle, which has changed significantly over the past 18 months or so, the company has also been working on changes in the concept of hypersonic suborbital passenger transport.
In a conversation with one of her subscribers in"Twitter" Musk shared some thoughts on this matter. One user noted that the Starship itself (second stage of the rocket) with full fuel tanks has too low a thrust-to-weight ratio to use it as a single-stage space system. In the current configuration, Starship must be equipped with six engines, of which three are optimized for work in the atmosphere, and the other three for work in a vacuum.
Musk replied that adding two or four moreRaptor to Starship engines will allow this stage to be used for suborbital flights over a distance of about 10,000 kilometers at a speed of 20 Machs (6.9 kilometers per second or nearly 25,000 kilometers per hour). This is undoubtedly lower than the estimate “in less than an hour anywhere in the world,” but still very quickly. For example, the flight between New York and London in this case will take only about 20 minutes. About 40 minutes is required for a flight between Los Angeles and Tokyo.
The reduction in flight range, of course,limit the potential benefits and versatility of such transport, but there are niches in the market for ultra-fast passenger traffic where such transport could find its application.
It is important to note that the system offered by SpaceX,you may have to compete with supersonic aircraft, whose projects are now actively developing several companies. This is due to the fact that, in addition to the flight time itself, passengers will spend time traveling between the city and the space center.
According to Gwynn Shotwell, Managing Director of SpaceX, it is likely that the company will be able to start offering the service of suborbital hypersonic passenger traffic already in 2025
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