Exploring the Possibilities of Mass Produced Super Heavy Starships

Category Technology

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Goatguy, a commentator from Nextbigfuture, did and interplanetary travel calculation exploring the possibility of mass production of SpaceX Starships. The Starship would be surrounded by 5 meters of water to protect the astronauts from interplanetary space radiation. The average cruise ship has a gross tonnage of 120,000 GT and one ton of water provides 1/10th of the radiation protection needed. SpaceX Starships could be produced in mass numbers creating a stream of 42 Mars cyclers orbiting between Earth and Mars and beyond.

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Goatguy, a Nextbigfuture commenter, did interplanetary travel calculations to check the numbers that I had cited. I had estimated that 1 meter of water surrounding astronauts would be enough to protect them from space radiation. Definitely, 5 meters of water would be enough.

Mass production of SpaceX Starships is likely by 2030. There is a Raptor engine factory that will make 4000 engines per year. Each Super Heavy Starship stack would use about 40 engines. Full production is 100 Super Heavy Starships per year.

SpaceX StarShip production requires 4000 Raptor engines a year.

Each SpaceX Starship has 1000 cubic meters of volume. One hundred of them would have 100,000 cubic meters of volume. Ocean going cruise ships are measured in terms of gross tonnage (GT), which is a measurement of the internal volume of a ship. The average cruise ship has a gross tonnage of 120,000 GT.

300 meters by 30 meters by 11 meters would be 99000 cubic meters. The picture above is of Space Shuttle External fuel tanks arranged into a rotating space station configuration. There are about 24 tanks. Space Shuttle fuel tanks were similar in size to the SpaceX starship. There are about 20 tanks going around the outside ring and about 4 bundled in the center. If there were 100 Starships, then there could be a triple ring going around the outside and bundles of 25 in the interior. Three stack of eight bundled together. There could be Super Heavy Boosters or other engines in the central part.

The typical cruise ship has a gross tonnage of 120,000 GT.

If we wanted to reduce the surface area, then a 50-meter-tall cylinder with 50 meters of diameter would be almost 97000 cubic meters. The outer one meter would be about 12000 cubic meters. If we wanted to reduce weight, then we could move the water shield from the outer wall to an inner set of walls or around "safe-room" living areas.Each SpaceX Starship is 50 meters tall and 9 meters in diameter. The least surface area for 100 would be to pack them in a single-layer bundle.

Space Shuttle fuel tanks were of similar size to the SpaceX Starship.

There could be more of the Starships stack end to end in the central area. It depends how one would want the weight distributed around propulsion or for a rotating system for centrifugal force in place of gravity.

There are some other configurations where one could imagine using Starship modules to form a larger structure.

If mass production is further scaled then 1000 Super Heavy Starships per year could be made. There could be a stream of say forty-two Mars Cyclers in constant cycling orbits of Mars and Earth. Mars cyclers would travel from Earth to Mars in 146 days (4.8 months) and spend the next 16 months beyond the orbit of Mars. This would be almost 21-month cycle. 42 cyclers would mean they would be two weeks apart. There would be nine or ten between Earth and Mars and 32 beyond the orbit of Mars.Detailed Calculations of Space Radiation and Shielding .

It takes 146 days (4.8 months) to travel from Earth to Mars.

Earth’s atmosphere, with a ground-level pressure of about 100,000 pascals (N/m²) corresponds to (÷ 9.81) = 10,200 kg or 10.2 tons of atmosphere ‘above our heads’ per m².

Placing 1 ton of water between the inside and outside of the proposed radiation-proofed capsule is ¹⁄₁₀th that radiation protection. Space radiation consists largely of 4 components: solar protons, neutrons, gamma/x-rays and so-called cosmic rays.Is a particularly good estimator of actual space radiation in inter-planetary space. Apologies for being highly technical.

A single ton of water provides 1/10th of the radiation protection needed.

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