This mysterious Starship. The strangeness of the most ambitious space project


The relatively small American company SpaceX was founded in 2002 by the famous Elon Musk, who is also its CEO and chief engineer. He immediately announced the company's incredibly ambitious goal of populating other planets.


For a very short time of its existence, the company has achieved tremendous success in the field of space activities, having developed and put into operation the Falcon 1 (Falcon 1 - Falcon 1), Falcon 9 and Falcon Heavy launch vehicles with 1 and 2 stages. system of global satellite Internet Starlink ("Starlink"), as well as manned and cargo spacecraft Dragon ("Dragon" - "dragon") for flights to the orbital space station and tourist flights.

At the same time, according to SpaceX, for more than 10 years the company has been working on its main project Starship ("Starship" - "starship"), which will make possible the colonization of the solar system. In mid-August 2021, Musk announced that the Starship's first orbital flight would take place “in the coming weeks”! However, the paucity and inconsistency of official reports about the details of this project raises serious questions, the answers to which are unknown. In this article, we will look at some of them.

Briefly about the project


The project provides for the creation of a universal reusable space transport system of extra-large payload, capable of delivering goods and people from one point of the Earth to another, from Earth to low-Earth orbit, to the Moon, to Mars and back. Moreover, the cost of such transportation should be several times, or even tens (!) Times less than when using "traditional of technologies».

The basis of the system is a two-stage rocket with one Super Heavy stage I block and a second stage, which is also a ship, since it is launched into space and has compartments for placing a payload or people. This stage, like the entire rocket, is also called Starship. Ships for different applications should be different, but have a very high degree of unification. The propulsion systems for both stages use SpaceX's specially designed Raptor engines that run on liquefied oxygen and methane.


Despite the fact that the implementation of this most complex project is clearly at an early stage, the company's management says that the first "cargo" flight to Mars will take place in the 2020s.

Features of the information work of the SpaceX company


As it is easy to see, the PR activities of SpaceX as a whole have a pronounced shocking connotation, which causes the expected emotional reaction from a significant part of the public. In particular, events with deliberately unrealistic dates are almost constantly announced. This game on the brink of a foul has not yet generally led to a drop in popular interest.

At the same time, SpaceX does not consider it necessary to devote the public to all the details of its plans and their changes, as, for example, it is customary to demand from NASA. The status of a "private trader" allows her to largely hide her real plans, while maintaining a public image of a fairly open and attractive company.

At the same time, when submitting information to the "outside world", a rational, scientific and technical language is often used, which, on the contrary, operates with the categories of cold reason and objective knowledge.

Rational and irrational approaches to public relations are diametrically opposed, but their combined use produces a synergistic effect that perfectly supports the image of Musk's "techie" in the eyes of the general public. This style is generally characteristic of this man, who fully revealed him at SpaceX, becoming one of the leading public figures. At the same time, the incompleteness of explanations of certain conceptual and particular technical solutions is compensated by an affectively charged general background, as well as by the authority of the company and its owner. This authority is confirmed by the results already achieved.

Thanks to the combined effect of these factors, a large group of Elon Musk admirers has formed in different countries of the world. Many of them behave like followers of the sect and almost idolize him, despite the fact that SpaceX has not yet achieved anything new in space exploration. However, a large number of skeptics have appeared who understand that the complexity of the Starship project is incomparably higher than those that were solved earlier. For these people, not all the decisions of the Starship project are clear, and some of them generally seem to be an outright bluff.

Thus, some people believe in the feasibility of the project, while others do not. The lack and inconsistency of official information makes it difficult to conduct sufficiently reasoned disputes on this topic.

Some oddities of the project


First, let's talk about the main, general, oddity of the Starship project. It provides for the creation of a cheap universal reusable space transport system, which will provide fundamentally new opportunities. But at the same time he does not propose to use any fundamentally new, more effective, technical solutions (the use of methane as a fuel does not "save" the weight and rise in the cost of the system caused by its reusability, versatility, etc.).

Now we will consider the logic and sequence of project implementation, which are not only not traditional for complex technical projects, but also often do not lend themselves to logical comprehension, which is aggravated by constant changes in the appearance of the transport system and the timing of achieving certain stages, as well as unclear or contradictory statements by SpaceX officials ...

For comparison, we can cite a project similar in complexity (but with much more modest goals) - the creation of the Space Shuttle system. During the development period, the concept of the system has been actively evolving over several years and was finally approved in 1972. Further, for about eight years, there was an intensive implementation of the adopted project, including the development of a rocket and space system and the creation (in some places - modernization) of ground infrastructure. This process required the attraction and creation of a huge number of scientific, technical and industrial resources of the United States. The material base of the system continued to be created after the start of flights. The Space Shuttle program has become the most expensive American astronautics project.

The evolution of the Starship system concept entered the public stage in 2010 (approximately eight years after the company's foundation), after which it underwent dramatic changes for another nine years. Immediately after this (more precisely, even a little earlier), a series of "flight tests" of many "prototypes" of the ship began, which continues to this day. These "prototypes" are actually the cheapest full-size mock-ups, the most expensive part of which are engines. All models are equipped with a minimum number of engines, refueling does not exceed 1/3 of the standard one. Almost every test ends with the destruction of the design of the model, which does not prevent the company from declaring it successful.


Apparently, in these flights, the operation of the engines in different modes is being worked out (including working out the rocking of the engines in two planes in flight conditions); control of the apparatus in the areas of ascent and landing (it is carried out with the help of engines); and also the measurement of mechanical stresses arising in the body of the apparatus from static and dynamic loads during flight.

The production of model tanks and their final assembly are deployed practically in the field: in the open air or in light shelters, with a minimum of equipment and rigging.

But even with the cheapest possible manufacture of model hulls, this method of testing engines and control systems seems strange. Not only because of its uniqueness, but also for the reason economic and technical irrationality. If only because the engines in this case are practically doomed, which requires a much larger number of them at the stage of development (despite the fact that prototypes, as a rule, are several times more expensive than serial copies), and can also greatly complicate their defect detection (investigation of the state after tests).

Until now, the flying mock-ups were made in the form of the II stage - the Starship spacecraft. In the summer of 2021, a prototype of the Super Heavy stage I was assembled, and a static fire test of its engines was performed on the launch pad. SpaceX promises to carry out an "orbital launch" (!) Of a two-stage complex "within the coming weeks."

Special attention should be paid to the sustainer liquid-propellant rocket engine (LPRE) of both stages of the Raptor, which is created by SpaceX itself (after the liquid-propellant rocket engine Merlin for Falcon series rockets).


The fact is that the most perfect scheme was chosen for this engine in terms of fuel economy: with afterburning of generator gas, with full gasification of the components before being fed into the main combustion chamber (gas-gas scheme) with high pressure; with separate turbopump units and separate gas generators for them, one of which is oxidizing, the second is reducing.

This scheme was theoretically known back in the 1960s of the last century, but the rocket engines of the two leading space superpowers with their enormous scientific and technical potential have not been able to translate it into a proven design over the past decades. Therefore, it is extremely surprising that this problem was solved by a young small company in just a few years.

The complexity of the task is aggravated by the use of a new fuel pair "liquid oxygen - liquid methane", which gives the rocket an energy advantage over the pair "liquid oxygen - kerosene", but creates certain difficulties in the development of the engine. In addition, this rocket engine must be reusable! And there is practically no reason at all to believe in the company's statement that such an engine for some reason will be much cheaper than simpler analogues.

For comparison, the concept of the Merlin engine, created by SpaceX earlier, looks quite appropriate: an oxygen-kerosene LPRE with an "open" circuit (without afterburning generator gas) with moderate pressure in the combustion chamber. But the creation of such an engine in just a few years is a very great achievement for the new company.

Thus, the phenomenon of the birth in SpaceX of an ultra-perfect, reliable, reusable and cheap methane "Raptor" defies logical comprehension. To complement the real picture, it must be said that the Raptor has not yet been finalized and, according to available data, not a single sample of it in bench tests has yet come close to achieving the declared resource at rated thrust.

In addition to the above, the lack of a full-fledged launch complex is noteworthy. First of all, there is no significant system for exhausting gases flowing out of the 7st stage engines during their operation. Great importance is always attached to the reliable removal of gases from a launching rocket in order to exclude their effect on it and prevent it from overturning. The larger the rocket, the more important this problem is. As you know, a huge pit 45 meters deep was dug to remove the gases of the R-1 rocket (and launch vehicles based on it). Launch complexes of super-heavy rockets (Saturn V / Space Shuttle, N-XNUMX, Energia) had cyclopean gas exhaust systems.

The dimensions of the Super Heavy / Starship rocket and space complex and the gas flow of its engines at launch correspond to super-heavy launch vehicles, but SpaceX claims that only a kind of "stool" (with an opening in the seat) with a height of only about 20 meters will be used to launch a full-size rocket ...


It would be possible to continue listing and analyzing the technical and organizational oddities of this project, but those already considered are quite enough to consider that it has hidden goals that are different from those stated.

Conclusion


So, we come to the conclusion that the Starship project contains many mysteries, the analysis of which suggests that it has hidden goals that have nothing to do with the officially declared ones.

Future events are likely to make the picture clearer.
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  1. Sergey Latyshev Offline Sergey Latyshev
    Sergey Latyshev (Serge) 30 September 2021 15: 45
    0
    Nothing strange.
    This is atypical for state-owned companies, with their state money, one-sidedness and drank (remember Vostochny or floating)
    And for a private trader - not at all, he does not cut at himself, but for himself at the state, and leads various projects.
    By the way, there were several rich enthusiasts, Musk is just younger and better known.

    To reduce the cost of the project, reduce costs, promote, and solve several different tasks in one launch.

    Are they flying? fly. Cheap? cheap. (write like this). Do you have any other projects? there is.
    So what for him also equipped to dig a foundation pit?
    1. Beloyar Offline Beloyar
      Beloyar (Valery) 30 September 2021 17: 14
      -1
      Starship's first stage hasn't flown yet. The flight is only promised. Practically in the coming days. So let's see. If the launch or its attempt occurs, then we will probably be surprised at almost any outcome :)
      1. Sergey Latyshev Offline Sergey Latyshev
        Sergey Latyshev (Serge) 30 September 2021 23: 28
        0
        If you have not flown, then any outcome will be a "victory".
        Surely they will do it so that it bangs - they will test it in an extreme mode, they will look for weak links. How they implemented it in Starship

        At the same time, they will promote flight and broads.

        We also had an idea to promote takeoffs from the Vostochny and the Sea. But "I could not," "I could not," there is such a lot of money ...
        Here are 2 lard to trampoline filmmakers - it's easy. The money is not your own ...
  2. Cyril Offline Cyril
    Cyril (Kirill) 30 September 2021 19: 27
    +1
    However, the paucity and inconsistency of official reports about the details of this project raises serious questions, the answers to which are unknown. In this article, we will look at some of them.

    If we can still agree about the inconsistency (which is natural - the project is constantly being finalized, changes are made to it), then what about the scarcity of something? Musk constantly arranges project presentations with detailed (at least at the public level) technical descriptions, regularly shares technical details on Twitter, answering questions from interested people.

    In particular, events with deliberately unrealistic dates are almost constantly announced. This game on the brink of a foul has not yet generally led to a drop in popular interest.

    The famous Musk-time, by his own admission, Musk is a way to spur subordinates to work faster. And, interestingly, it works, given the speed of work in Boca Chica (and the speed of development of Falcon with Dragons).

    Thanks to the combined effect of these factors, a large group of Elon Musk admirers has formed in different countries of the world. Many of them behave like followers of the sect

    A sect is when they fanatically believe that there is no evidence and logical justification for it. Well, for example, in God or the possibility of building communism. The positive attitude towards Musk is based on his already completed projects. Plus on his bold and unconventional views of the world, the will, which made it possible to strangle such titans as Roscosmos, Boeing, and Lockheed Martin. Actually, even if his Starship fails, it has already left a noticeable mark in the history of astronautics, comparable to that of Korolev and von Braun.

    that SpaceX has not yet achieved anything new in space exploration.

    Musk bases his project on existing and proven technologies, adding his own improvements to them. This allows you not to wait for years for new breakthroughs in physics, eating up a lot of money, but to create effective transport systems here and now. What he does.

    However, a large number of skeptics have appeared who understand that the complexity of the Starship project is incomparably higher than those that were solved earlier. For these people, not all the decisions of the Starship project are clear, and some of them generally seem to be an outright bluff.

    In reality, the "starship" technically does not fundamentally differ from the same Falcon Heavy. Therefore, there is no logical reason to talk about any "incommensurable difficulties." Well, the skeptics ... I remember that about 5 years ago, the same "skeptics" like the same ever-memorable Konanykhine, foaming at the mouth, argued that the Falcon-9 landing was impossible, and if possible, it would not fly again, and if it did, then only 1 time, and if many times, then it is unprofitable ... etc. Time has shown who was right and which "experts" of these "skeptics".

    But at the same time he does not propose to use any fundamentally new, more effective, technical solutions (the use of methane as a fuel does not "save" the weight and rise in the cost of the system caused by its reusability, versatility, etc.).

    Doesn't he offer? Did anyone implement a propulsive launch vehicle before Musk? Let me remind you that the shuttle with Buran returned in an airplane way, which implied a much greater weighting of the structure and the creation of extended landing strips. The propulsive landing was precisely what was fundamentally new.

    And it is precisely reusability with universality that leads to a reduction in the cost, not an increase in the cost of the system.

    For comparison, we can cite a project similar in complexity (but with much more modest goals) - the creation of the Space Shuttle system.

    An incorrect comparison, because the Space Shuttle (with all my admiration for it), firstly, was a state project with all the bureaucratic delays, secondly, it was created with the participation of thousands of contractors, which significantly complicated production, and thirdly, it included a different landing technology was implemented. Starship is privately built with a minimum of bureaucracy (other than final certification), most of the structure is built and assembled by SpaceX itself, and a different landing pattern is implemented in the project.

    Almost every test ends with the destruction of the design of the model, which does not prevent the company from declaring it successful.

    The company declares them to be successful because each test does not have the imperative "launch and land" goal. In the first tests, a takeoff to a low altitude was practiced, then a takeoff to a high altitude and a transition to a controlled fall mode, then a controlled fall and exit, then a soft landing. And prototype tests show how the company gradually achieved its goals. moreover, the "iterative approach" - that is, constant testing of new prototypes - allows you to work out what cannot be worked out in ground tests. For example, the mechanism for supplying fuel to engines with a controlled fall .. that's why prototypes are assembled "from shit and sticks" so that it would not be a pity to break them. However, only the blind will call the latest prototypes cans, because the quality of their manufacture and assembly has increased markedly.

    Therefore, it is extremely surprising that this problem was solved by a young small company in just a few years.

    What surprises? SpaceX is not reinventing the wheel, but using the developments of the designers of the past, bringing their ideas. This speeds up the process considerably. Plus, today the methods of calculation, material processing, etc. are much more perfect than decades ago.

    In addition, this rocket engine must be reusable! And there is practically no reason at all to believe in the company's statement that such an engine for some reason will be much cheaper than simpler analogues.

    The expression "simpler analogue" is an oxymoron. If it is simpler, then it is no longer an analogue. Musk did not say that the Raptor would be cheaper than the Merlin, but it could be close to it in cost.

    About achieving the declared characteristics:

    On February 7, 2019, another fire test was carried out using "warm" fuel components, after which ILon Musk reported that the engine had confirmed its design power [43], reaching a thrust level of 172 tf [1 kN] at a pressure in the combustion chamber of 686 bar [257 MPa]. An increase in thrust of 25,7-10% is expected when using supercooled propellants.

    Thus, the phenomenon of the birth in SpaceX of an ultra-perfect, reliable, reusable and cheap methane "Raptor" defies logical comprehension.

    why doesn’t give in? "Raptor" was developed not 40 years ago, like the same RD-180, but literally "the other day", using modern technologies and materials, computing power. Therefore, all the logical grounds for combining performance and cheapness are available.

    about the "full-fledged launch complex" - well, once the first planes took off exclusively from a catapult, today they can take off from ordinary asphalt and even unprepared ground.

    It would be possible to continue listing and analyzing the technical and organizational oddities of this project, but those already considered are quite enough to consider that it has hidden goals that are different from those stated.

    Solid conspiracy theories. What "hidden targets" might a space rocket have? It is designed only for one thing - to launch a payload into space.
    1. 123 Offline 123
      123 (123) 30 September 2021 19: 42
      0
      Eco broke you belay BukoF only fellow Could just write - I believe, I worship, I pray winked

      Solid conspiracy theories. What "hidden targets" might a space rocket have? It is designed only for one thing - to launch a payload into space.

      Are you the obvious captain, or have you been promoted to major? smile The whole question is how "useful" the load will be and for whom. I'll bet on the Pentagon. yes
      1. Cyril Offline Cyril
        Cyril (Kirill) 30 September 2021 20: 02
        -1
        Eco broke through you then belay Only bukoF fellow Could just write - I believe, I worship, I pray winked

        "A lot of bukoff" just because I do not believe, but justify. But it is characteristic that you "niasily" this.

        Are you the obvious captain, or have you been promoted to major?

        It is not my fault that I have to explain the obvious things.

        The whole question is how "useful" the load will be and for whom. I'll bet on the Pentagon.

        The purpose of the payload has nothing to do with the purpose of the transport system itself. On a rocket, you can at least bring out potatoes. Whether it is in the interests of the Pentagon, NASA, Roscosmos, or aliens from the planet Nibiru, it doesn't matter. The payload from this does not cease to be useful.
        1. Fourth Offline Fourth
          Fourth (Fourth) 1 October 2021 13: 01
          -1
          Quote: Cyril
          It is not my fault that I have to explain the obvious things.

          And there is no need to explain the obvious things. Without your explanations, it can be seen - the king is naked!
          1. Cyril Offline Cyril
            Cyril (Kirill) 3 October 2021 08: 57
            -2
            And there is no need to explain the obvious things.

            Necessary. Unfortunately, you have to.

            the king is naked!

            So don't look at naked kings, phew.
  3. boriz Offline boriz
    boriz (boriz) 30 September 2021 20: 29
    +2
    The guys are sawing money while they can. Knowing that the program will end in nothing for objective reasons. And no one will remember the money spent.
    If anyone hasn't looked at the Dow Jones for a long time, I report that there has been a steady decline since August 16. The S&P 500 has had the same steady decline since September 2. And this is in the context of trillions of injections into the US economy in general, and in support of the stock market in particular. In 1929. there were no emission injections, so everything collapsed quickly and unpretentiously.
    Back in August, the FRS, by publishing the July meeting minutes, warned that it would have to stop the established practice of asset redemption. That is, support for the stock market will be discontinued before the end of this year.
    According to M.L. Khazin, the decline in production in the United States will be at least 30%, the fall in the stock market - 10 times. I repeat, not 10%, but 10 times. Multilayer derivatives prices will drop well below the three-ply Zewa paper. The overall decline in the US economy will be at least 70%.
    After that, no one will have the desire and time to figure out where the US "space" money has gone. These are such "little things" ...
    That is, the real collapse of the stock markets is already a fact. The moment of the beginning of its rapid collapse is determined by several people. They should give the go-ahead to stop the asset repurchase. This will be enough for the market to crash within 3 to 5 days. So much so that it will not seem a little to anyone.
    And those who will be warned about this moment are now preparing for it, minimizing losses.
    Once the preparations are complete, a red whistle will sound and the show will begin.
    And no one will be interested in where Super Heavy / Starship is, where is the US hypersonic missile, where is their 6th and 7th generation fighter and other minor trifles.
    The United States will deeply give a damn about what will happen to Binduzhnik's homeland, the Tribal "tigers", and so on along the list ...
    And the bankers will deeply give a damn about the fate of the United States. They quickly disappear from there.
    1. boriz Offline boriz
      boriz (boriz) 1 October 2021 00: 57
      0
      By the way, at the sight of today's (yesterday's) data from the S&P 500 and the Dow Jones, I had a doubt that the bankers would keep the situation even when buying the Fed's assets. It seems that everyone has already understood everything.
    2. Winnie Offline Winnie
      Winnie (Winnie) 3 October 2021 20: 02
      -3
      The United States will deeply give a damn about what will happen to Binduzhnik's homeland, the Tribal "tigers", and so on along the list ...

      ... and Russia will be told that its NWF no longer exists! Because the fund's money was invested in derivatives that depreciated. tongue
      To which Russia will express concern or deep concern. lol
      1. boriz Offline boriz
        boriz (boriz) 3 October 2021 22: 06
        +1
        When the US economy collapses, Russia will come out of the external control of its economy. The Russian Federation has very little invested in US securities, compared with China, Japan, etc.
        Leaving under external control compensates for everything with interest.
        1. Winnie Offline Winnie
          Winnie (Winnie) 3 October 2021 22: 09
          -2
          Who will allow Russia to get out of external control? mr.Putin or what?
  4. Valery Vinokurov (valery vinokurov) 1 October 2021 12: 37
    +1
    new Ostap Bender))
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  7. ont65 Offline ont65
    ont65 (Oleg) 14 October 2021 11: 39
    0
    The door to space is not boarded up to anyone and everyone is free to look for their own way. We have our own project 'Corona', albeit without a rescued first stage of the upper stage, as Musk is trying to do with Super Heavy. But the residents of Makeev are not given money for the domestic Starship, and Musk does not have Roskosmos looking into the past, but he has a lot of money. We even have Soyuz-5 lying under our feet did not dare to try Musk as Heavy and the heavyweight program was safely screwed up, hoping to fund an option that Musk, looking at the launch prices of SLS as a competing platform, simply rejected it. Nevertheless, SLS was originally created on the basis of a working platform, and for Musk, everything starts from scratch and he has to rush to work in the Stakhanov way regardless of the costs. You count on a piece of the pie, you have to work hard. NASA's manned program is in limbo on its own. The United States is constantly balancing on the brink of default and how events will develop is unknown. Nevertheless, the work is going on, it is visible, they talk and argue about it. We have something quiet and the prospects are even dimmer.
  8. art573 Offline art573
    art573 (Artyom Vladimirovich Yarovikov) 20 October 2021 20: 59
    0
    But will our ANGAROYs launch an inhabited orbital station of the permanent segment into lunar orbit?