Tech2 News Staff
18 February 2019 11:01:58 IST
SpaceXStarship's Mars rocket is the company's most complex project to date, but it's also harder than any other project. NASAPast or current missions on Mars, according to the Chief Engineer of NASA.
The fully reusable shuttle to Mars is the latest wonder from the SpaceX group and CEO's drawing board Elon Musk, a mammoth stainless steel over 180 meters. The rocket was designed with two radical features that make Musk super excited and NASA's chief engineer "very worried", according to a Internal business report.
The first of these is the Starships stainless steel body. This is a big change from the usual choice of carbon fiber for Space's body.
But this is the second change that has swept experts in the aerospace industry: the unique cooling system Starships that will prevent it from being incinerated in the atmosphere of the Earth and Mars.
NASA uses hundreds and thousands of ceramic tiles to protect its spaceships from heat when they slip into the atmosphere. Musk described at Popular mechanics how Starship will "bleed" rocket fuel from tiny pores on its surface to cool it – a "radical and deliciously counterintuitive" concept for rocket thermal shields.
Although Musk is certain of the construction and design of Starship, NASA's aerospace engineer and NASA's Director of Space Technology and Exploration in Langley, Walt Engelund is not so confident.
The SpaceX rocket for Mars is designed to carry 100 passengers and 100 tons of cargo at its best. It's something that NASA has been studying for decades – at the entrance, the descent and the landing of a huge spaceship with a special cargo – with progressive and progressive success.
"We spent a lot of time thinking about how we could do it on Mars," Engelund said. told Internal business. "We landed on the Curiosity rover, the biggest thing we ever deposited on the surface of Mars."
The jump that Starship is aiming at – a hundred times more ambitious – is to land and make a spacecraft the size of a building (a building of 100 people).
"It will not be easy for us or SpaceX," said Engelund. His specific concern was not the design of the heat shield itself, which had already been tried by NASA (using the astronaut's urine instead of rocket fuel). His doubts (echoed by many engineers in response to Musk's descriptions of technology) are: tiny holes that "bleed" rocket fuel to the surface could avoid clogging.
It would not take much to obstruct something like that if they were microscopic, Engelund told Internal business.
"What if a bird pooped on your rocket and plugged a few holes in? And then, when it comes back, does not coolant come out of those holes and that part of the vehicle is overheating?" Dwayne Day, a NASA engineer who helped investigate the accident of the Space Shuttle Columbia, added.
And once these challenges on Earth have been taken into account, there is more to fear on the other end: the fine dust that blows all year on Mars.
Musk has shared only the construction and features of Starship, but he has not yet unveiled the rocket in detail.
I will make a full technical presentation of Starship after the theft of the vehicle we are building in Texas, so hopefully in March / April
– Elon Musk (@elonmusk) December 22, 2018
Still, the NASA engineer does not ignore the possibility that the new SpaceX rocket in progress is not successful.
"(SpaceX has) surprised a lot of people, and a lot of smart people are working for them, and Elon seems to be really committed and dedicated to that," said Engelund.
"Maybe some things (NASA) could do it, I guess there will be some."
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