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Home / Science / Elon Musk says SpaceX is developing a complex "bleeding" heavy metal rocket ship

Elon Musk says SpaceX is developing a complex "bleeding" heavy metal rocket ship



SpaceX, the space company founded by Elon Musk, is busily working on an ambitious project: permanently settling people on Mars.

To realize this vision, the Musk company is developing a colossal, fully reusable launch system called Starship.

The spaceship is intended as a 180 foot spacecraft entering orbit on Super Heavy, a 220 meter high rocket booster, according to Musk's last descriptions.

The spaceship is designed to refill at low altitude. Orbit of the earth to carry 100 passengers and more than 100 tons of cargo at one go to Mars.

But the success or failure of the launching system – and Musk's plan to support humanity as well – could cut down on the feasibility of two major and recent design changes that Musk considers "radical" and "delightful." catchy "has described.

One Change Concerns the Construction of the Spacenet of Stainless Steel Alloys Instead of Carbon Fiber Composites

But the most surprising change, according to the aerospace industry experts, is the way Starship will try to be in the atmospheres from Mars and earth not to burn.

Instead of relying on thousands of heavy ceramic tiles, Starship from heat, like NASA's Space Shuttle, Musk says, the rocket fuel "bleeds" through tiny pores to cool off.

Theoretically, liquid is placed between Starsip's steel skin and the burning hot plasma while plowing through atmospheric gases, which would prevent the ship's destruction.

It remains to be seen, however, whether SpaceX can provide a launch system of this unparalleled size and construction, says Walt Engelund, Aerospace Engineer and Director of Space Technology and Exploration Directorate of NASA Langley.

"Large- NASA has been challenged by NASA for decades, and we've spent a lot of time thinking about how we could do it on Mars," Engelund told Business Insider.

"We've landed the metric ton of Curiosity Rover – that's the biggest we've ever set down on the surface of Mars."

From the Mars landing of a robot-sized robot to a large-scale ship Filled with human beings, Engelund said, "a few orders of magnitude" – about 100 times – more difficult than the landing at Curiosity, of which he said, "is probably one of the hardest things we've ever done at NASA. "

"It will not be easy for us or SpaceX," Engelund said.

Why Starship Turned into a Gravity Field vy-metal rocket ship

Musk believes he can build a self-sufficient city on the red planet by 2050 . He wants some tickets for Mars to be as cheap as a house on earth and free for return flights.

The Starship Super Heavy launch system is the way in which Musk aims to achieve this goal, and said switching to Stainless Steel Alloys is a way to keep costs down and system speed build.

"Spaceship will look like liquid silver," Musk said about the change in December, adding that the ship will have this a mirror polish to reflect the heat – a literal case of a cool factor.

 5c630c392628983d2a4dc1fb 1200 Illustration of the upcoming SpaceX spaceship Spaceship and super heavy rocket amplifier (center) next to NASA's Saturn V station Moon rocket (left) and SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket (right) , (© Kimi Talvitie)

In an interview with Popular Mechanics Musk stated that steel was about 67 times as cheap as the lightweight, yet super strong carbon fiber composites SpaceX had planned for the first time September to use. Steel is also easier to handle than carbon fiber, allowing for faster prototyping and better withstanding intense heat.

Musk said steel strength "increased 50%" when it came in contact with ultracold fluids, including refrigerants, cryogenic methane, and oxygen that could cause starship to move through space.

The problem with steel, however, is that the material is dense and heavy. At least one early version of General Dynamics' Atlas rocket, made of metal, collapsed on its own weight on a launch pad.

However, Musk has noted that the use of steel by SpaceX is much different and will make the redesigned spacecraft stronger. more durable and less difficult. Finally, he said the material change would improve the performance of the rocket ship compared to the old design.

"I am confident that a stainless steel ship will be lighter than advanced aluminum or carbon fiber because of its resistance to weight and temperature, reducing the need for heat shielding," musk tweeted in January.

But as hard as steel is, it is not invincible, especially when it forms the skin of a spaceship screaming through atmospheric gases.

Sweating and Bleeding for Survival

 5c5df17f936c0e5440147d5b 1200 An illustration of the upcoming SpaceX spaceship spaceship and Super Heavy Rocket Amplifier. (© Kimi Talvitie)

Spaceships could enter through the atmospheres of Mars and Earth at at 19,000 miles per hour . At such speeds, according to Musk parts of the abdomen of the ship, such as its nose, could be exposed to temperatures of about 2700 degrees Fahrenheit.

That's enough heat to destroy the steel alloy, said Spacek could be used for the outer skin of Starship. 310S, the material is often billed as a refractory metal, as much chromium and nickel are mixed.

(It is not unlike the steel used in kitchen pots and pans.) However, 310S steel still reacts with oxygen and corrodes at about 2,000 degrees and melts at about 2,400.

The rocket ship must be protected from the intense heat For this reason, Musk's plans call for the cooling of Starship's corpse while landing on liquid fuel.

Musk said Popular Mechanics that he decided not to use spaceflat heat sheets to save weight and avoid the risk of a damaged or lost tile endangering a heat shield.

Instead, "he explained," rocket fuel "bled out of tiny holes in its steel skin, sweating rocket fuel away the burning heat of the atmospheric inlet.

"On the windward side, I'd like to have the first regenerative heat shield, a double-walled stainless steel bowl – like a stainless steel sandwich," Musk said.

"They either flow fuel or water into them. Inside the sandwich layer you have microperforations on the outside – very small perforations – and you essentially bleed water or you could bleed fuel through the microperforations on the outside. You would not see them if you had not come up close. "

He added that the heat shield would serve a dual purpose by reinforcing Starship's steel body.

"To my knowledge, this has never been suggested before." Musk said.

Experts told Business Insider that Musk is right, that no starship has ever been launched into orbit and returned to Earth with such a heat shield. But the concept of sweating or "transpirational" thermal protection is not new is an incredibly difficult technical challenge.

Lunar and ICBM transpiration cooling

 5c5df04fd7ab674263245b06 1200 Musk says the Starship launch system is being polished to a mirror-like finish (© Kimi Talvitie)

Transpiratory or "active" cooling has been around for millions of years in the form of mammalian skin. For example, when human body temperature becomes too high, microscopic pores will sweat. [19659002] This liquid then evaporates to remove excess heat and prevent overheating.

As for the sweating of spacecraft, NASA began to play with the nature-inspired cooling system before astronauts landed on the moon.

The idea of ​​transpiration cooling is not new. This has been around for decades, "Engelund said.

A patent filed by NASA in 1965 suggested using astronaut urine to cool a heat shield on the underside of a space capsule.

In 2006, the space agency spent At least $ 70,000 to research an inflatable, transpiration-cooled heat shield that could help land space probes on Mars.

Sweating space probe also featured in the Cold War arms race The defense test yielded a transpiration-cooled Launching the tip of the nose for reentry vehicles.

Such reentry vehicles are expected to fly into space on intercontinental ballistic missiles, re-enter the Earth's atmosphere at thousands of miles per hour, and hit distant targets with atomic warheads.19659002] According to historical records of the US Air Force became the project however, in the 1970s, because of limited funding and "design problems that had tormented the development effort" canceled. Engineers opted instead for simpler ablation "heat shields that isolate a vehicle by burning during reentry.

Information on the problems of defense-induced transpirational heat shields is mostly classified.

But George Herbert, an aerospace engineer, researched The military use of space launch vehicles, Business Insider said in an email that "belonged to the reported and known problems blocked transpiration holes."

In other words, a challenge that is common in front of teen skin: clogged pores. [19659016] What is when a bird poops at your rocket

 5c63328e2628983dea519e43 1200 (NASA)

Several experts told business insiders that they were worried about the problem Blocking the Heat Shield of Starship "You can imagine it's not much It would take a while to clog anything if they were microscopic pores, "Engelund said.

Dwayne Day, who helped investigate the loss of the NASA Columbia Space Shuttle and crew, was angry. This is the usual scenario that would confront the spacecraft at every launch site on Earth.

"What if a bird poops on your rocket and clogs a few holes, and when the thing returns, no coolant comes out of those holes and that section of the vehicle is overheated?" Day wrote in an email Business Insider.

Engelund said he had seen problems with clogged coolant systems in tests conducted on NASA's hypersonic wind tunnels.

Scaling With Such Experiments Vehicle models are placed in the tunnel – which can blow air at thousands of miles per hour – to investigate how they work. Some of the test runs included heat shields that pump fluids through channels just below the skin of the model to cool them, but not all models survived.

"I've seen cases where you get a clogged channel … and this will be the case immediately leading to breakthroughs," Engelund said. "A model will disappear in a hypersonic wind tunnel, it's almost evaporating, there's so much energy and so much heat."

Musk has said that using methane as a coolant may be better than water.

"Rapid water evaporation It can intuitively cause it to freeze and block cooling channels," he said last month in a tweet .

But Engelund also sees challenges with the methane option. At high temperatures, carbon atoms in hydrocarbon fuels (such as methane) may "coke" or adhere and solidify. Such deposits can then block fine structures like pores.

"I would be very worried about that," Engelund said, adding that another big problem is impurities in fuels, which can also cause constipation.

One Possible Way To address these issues, Engelund said, it might be easy to add more pores than it seems necessary, "just in case a small percentage of the perforations are plugged or the channels of coolant to those perforations flow."

Bird droppings and constipation, there is fine dust that blows over Mars. This could settle in Starship's burning pores and it might be difficult to find and eliminate these blockages on the red planet.

"Inspection and certification in general would be great for a scale-active system like this one – especially on Mars, where you do not have access to a large portal or tall towers to climb up and inspect," Engelund said.

"I think you could use drones, maybe that's something he's thinking about."

Can Starship Take The Heat?

Musk shared only parts of Starship's latest design and did not present a complete picture to the public as he did in the past. (The renderings shown in this story are from Kimi Talvitie a 3D artist.)

But Musk said in in December that he would deliver "a detailed statement in March / April" until he successfully launched became a "Test Hopper" prototype that the company builds in Texas.

In the meantime, Musk has released a video (above) that seems to show the test of a metallic heat shield for Starship. It is still unclear how much research SpaceX has conducted on the concept of transpiration cooling.

"It's a big risk if they have not worked to qualify and confirm what they want," Herbert said.

"But if that could be a real winner for their new design."

If it does not work, Engelund said, it's not necessarily a dead end for Musk's Starship.

"He might find it untenable or too expensive to certify or test, and he might find a better idea," Engelund said. "He was really good at his career."

SpaceX also expects constant improvements and changes as engineers work on the realization of Starship.

"We use the same fast iteration in the design approach that has led to success In the Falcon 1, Falcon 9, Falcon Heavy and Dragon programs," a company representative said in an email to Business Insider, referring to the latest rocket

SpaceX, however, rejects any comparisons between Starship and NASA's Curiosity rover.

"Curiosity has pushed the boundaries of Mars's 1970s technology [entry, descent, and landing] including a special parachute-based EDL Architecture Exceeded, "says SpaceX.

" We are taking a completely different approach and are using what we have done with Falcon 9 and have ample opportunity to demonstrate it on Earth before flying to Mars.

Despite the major hurdles that SpaceX appears to encounter in finding Starship on Mars, no expert has talked about the SpaceX system was implausible.

"They have surprised many people, and many smart people work for them, and Elon really seems to be very dedicated and dedicated, "said Engelund.

" Maybe there are some. "Things we could do with them, I suspect there will be one." [19659002] This article was originally published by Business Insider.

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