Each of SpaceX's ventures can change the fate of the world or have already influenced it, whether Musk's critics like it or not. Everyone has heard about the first ever reusable space rocket Falcon 9 and the Starlink project, designed to give the world an affordable and fast Internet. If in the case of the second there are so far more questions than answers, the Nine has long become the most demanded rocket in the world on the space launch market. As of the end of last year, she made the largest number of starts: only 20, all successful. Thanks to a launch cost of $ 65 million (which is relatively modest by space standards), Musk's company has more than enough to do. And then there is the first start of the manned "Dragon" with a man on board on the way …
However, all these are toys against the background of the most ambitious and, perhaps, the most mysterious project of the company - the project of the giant starship spacecraft, which supposedly can take on board up to a hundred people and with a length of 50 meters will be the largest manned spacecraft ever built. … Don't be confused by the plain-looking Starhopper Jumpers: they are just technology demonstrators for the ship of the future. All the fun is ahead.
Starship itself is nothing more than a development of the Interplanetary Transport System, which, in turn, has become an improved version of the Mars Colonial Transporter system. Over time, SpaceX calmed down the ardor, so the size of the system decreased somewhat: if the height of the entire Interplanetary Transport System complex was 122 meters, then Starship together with the rocket had a "modest" 118. The diameter of the system was reduced from 12 to 9 meters, respectively. But again, this does not make the Big Falcon Rocket (the modern name for the bundle of the new rocket and the Starship ship) any less revolutionary project. By the way, reusability is included.
Will everything secret become clear?
In connection with Elon's serious plans, the experts have long had a question: why is all this needed at all? To supply the ISS, the Americans have (or rather will be) relatively simple and cheap Crew Dragon and CST-100 spacecraft. For the flight to the Moon, the States have already decided to use Orion: it will also be used to supply the future lunar orbital station Lunar Orbital Platform-Gateway. By the way, back in 2017, Donald Trump signed Directive No. 1, which implies the return of the United States to the satellite of our planet. The US Martian ambitions have finally disappeared into oblivion: the state is not interested in this, and SpaceX itself will never be able to organize a manned flight (and even with a landing!) To the Red Planet.
The answer to the Starship concept may be quite unexpected. Perhaps this is nothing more than a "disguised" military project, no matter how strange and absurd it may sound. And what a joke, if this was openly stated in SpaceX itself. In October 2019, SpaceX President and COO Gwynne Shotwell, speaking at the Association of the United States Army conference, proposed Starship as a delivery vehicle for soldiers and ammunition for the US Army. “We're talking to the army about Starlink and Starship,” she said, without going into details. At the same time, Shotwell called the spacecraft a "reliable and inexpensive" delivery method.
SpaceX, as already mentioned, did not go into details, but earlier Elon Musk shared interesting information. As a reminder, back in 2017, an entrepreneur proposed using the BFR complex for ground flights. The maximum flight speed in this case will reach 27 thousand kilometers per hour in the upper atmosphere. Thus, it will be possible to fly from any point on the Earth to another point in less than an hour. For example, a flight from New York to Shanghai will take 39 minutes, and from London to Dubai - 29 minutes. “I forgot to say that the cost of the ticket will be about the same as the price of travel in an economy class plane,” Musk wrote.
The latter, of course, is just a colossal exaggeration, strange for a person who deals with rocket and space topics. In fact, this type of transport can only be useful for solving single problems of very great state (interstate) importance. Could this be the delivery of something in the interests of the US Armed Forces? Can't be ruled out.
It is appropriate to recall here that the USSR has always perceived the Space Shuttle as a "combat complex" capable of hypothetically delivering nuclear strikes on Soviet territory and stealing satellites. Of course, nothing of the kind happened in real life, however, as a civilian spacecraft, the shuttle did not justify itself. Due to the enormous cost of launches and the colossal technical complexity of the project. Musk simply cannot fail to see this example in front of him.
It is worth repeating: there are simply no real civilian missions for Starship. The colonization of other planets in the solar system is something from the next century, when the technologies of the BFR itself will already have time to become obsolete. Starship will not be able to replace ordinary passenger aircraft due to the launch price.
It is noteworthy that relatively recently, Western journalists decided to understand the meaning of another megaproject - the world's largest aircraft Stratolaunch Model 351 from Scaled Composites, which should act as a carrier of space rockets launched by the "air launch" method. The plane made its first flight in April 2019, and then the company was sold to an unnamed investor.
Quartz edition in Paul Allen built the world’s biggest plane. Does anyone need it? " drew attention to some inconsistencies. "Air launch", in which a spacecraft is launched in flight, has long shown its commercial failure. At least with the current level of technology. And then there's Musk with his reusable rockets.
So the journalists suggested that the 351st is nothing more than an emergency means of launching military spacecraft into orbit. The logic is simple: it takes a lot of time and weather conditions to prepare for a rocket launch. There are no such restrictions for launching a carrier aircraft (although, of course, there are risks as well).
For those who think all this is unnecessary conspiracy, it should be remembered that not so long ago, former scientist Robert Ballard, who became famous after the discovery of the Titanic, stated that the search for the steamer was in fact a secret state mission to find sunken American submarines …
On the other hand, all this cannot be unambiguously interpreted as evidence of the original military orientation of the Big Falcon Rocket project. Paradoxical as it may sound, but, most likely, within its framework, we (or rather, SpaceX) will simply get a not very necessary and very expensive spacecraft. This is, of course, provided that it ever takes off at all. Musk himself does not lose his inherent optimism.