SpaceX Test There Starship Airlock System For The First Time: Elon Musk is a man on a mission quite apart from his tricky day job weaning mankind off gas-guzzling automobiles. He also plans to drag our civilization over to Mars and he wants to do it soon.
To this end, Musk has been frantically developing a pioneering interplanetary vessel known as Starship launching and iterating fresh prototypes at a frankly insane rate. But how does it all work And what’s inside that giant shiny cylinder that keeps crashing today we gingerly venture?
NASA selected SpaceX to develop a Starship Human Landing System (HLS) to land astronauts on the Moon by 2025. Humanity has not returned to the Moon in half a century. NASA’s Artemis program aims to build a base on the Moon’s South Pole.
SpaceX is working on the lunar-optimized Starship development at its Starbase facility located in Boca Chica Village, Texas. The company already conducted multiple test flights and is preparing to perform the first orbital Starship flight which will provide insight to improve the spacecraft design.
NASA released a new document that features photos of SpaceX Starship lunar lander elevator & airlock prototype. SpaceX says it is “working with NASA to ensure crew safety and performance.” The elevator will be used to bring astronauts down to the lunar surface.
The document is a set of presentation slides with images of Artemis astronauts checking out the elevator and airlock.
An airlock often abbreviated to just lock, is a compartment with doors which can be sealed against pressure which permits the passage of people and objects between environments of differing pressure or atmospheric composition while minimizing the change of pressure in the adjoining spaces and mixing of environments.
The lock consists of a relatively small chamber with two airtight doors in series which do not open simultaneously. An airlock may be used for passage between environments of different gases or different pressures, or both, to minimize pressure loss or prevent the gases from mixing. Also including an image labeled “Crew cabin VR evaluation”.
It is probably a Virtual Reality (VR) video simulator of how the Starship cabin interior will look like and operate. The document does not provide elaborate information, nor technical details about the systems.
NASA Artemis plans to use its Space Launch System (SLS) and SpaceX Starship HLS to return humans to the Moon. Before launching humans, NASA will conduct the Artemis I mission which will be an uncrewed flight test of the SLS/Orion vehicle scheduled for May this year. Then NASA plans to launch the Artemis II mission in 2022; It will be the first crewed demonstration flight of SLS/Orion around the Moon.
After those demo missions are successful, NASA will conduct the Artemis III mission which will land a pair of astronauts on the lunar surface. Initially, NASA planned to conduct the first crewed lunar landing in 2024 but it has been delayed until 2025 due to a variety of factors, including the Coronavirus pandemic.
The document also features a graphic of the Artemis III concept of operations, pictured below. The graphic pictured below outlines how NASA plans to use the Orion Space Launch System and SpaceX Starship to return humanity to the Moon.
During the crewed Artemis III mission, the Space Launch System rocket will lift off from NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida to launch four astronauts aboard the Orion spacecraft for a multi-day journey to lunar orbit. Simultaneously, SpaceX will launch Starship HLS, alongside a fleet of uncrewed Starship ‘fuel tanker’ vehicles from Starbase at Boca Chica, Texas.
The vehicles will be filled with cryogenic propellant for in-orbit refueling of the HLS spacecraft. Starship is fueled with a combination of cryogenic liquid methane and liquid oxygen. SpaceX will launch a Starship to serve as a propellant depot in low Earth orbit and multiple Starships that will serve as tankers to deliver propellant to the stainless-steel depot vehicle that will be orbiting our planet.
Then the Starship HLS will launch to low Earth orbit where it will dock to the depot and receive propellant. Once fueled, HLS will initiate the voyage to lunar orbit 240,000 miles away from Earth, where it will wait for the astronauts aboard Orion to arrive.
Once Starship and Orion are both in lunar orbit, Orion will dock with the Starship HLS nose cone docking port to allow 2 of the 4 astronauts to enter Starship. Then Orion will undock and Starship HLS will land on the Lunar South Pole and the first woman and next man will explore the Moon for around a week and collect samples while Orion remains in lunar orbit with the other two astronauts monitoring the mission.
To return to Earth, Starship HLS will lift off from the moon’s surface and meet Orion in lunar orbit again. Orion will dock with Starship and the astronauts return to Orion. The Orion spacecraft will transport the astronauts home with a traditional parachute-assisted splashdown in the Pacific Ocean that will ensure the astronauts’ safety.
SpaceX’s Starship launch vehicle has many potential uses and capabilities that will enable companies and organizations to access space like never before. Engineers are developing the fully-reusable Starship launch system at the Starbase facility located in Boca Chica Beach, Texas.
Reusability enables SpaceX to reduce the cost of spaceflight and enable a sustainable human presence in space long-term. Starship will push the boundaries of space exploration. It will be capable of transporting up to 100 passengers inside its 1,000 cubic meter pressurized cabin.
“The crew configuration of Starship includes private cabins, large common areas, centralized storage, solar storm shelters and a viewing gallery,” SpaceX says. No spacecraft in history has been capable of transporting that many passengers. Humanity has not set foot on the Moon in 50 years, SpaceX aims to change that with Starship.
Once SpaceX achieves the milestone of returning humanity to our closest celestial neighbor, SpaceX’s ultimate goal is to colonize Mars. Starship will enable the first astronauts to set foot on the Red Planet.
Long-term, the company aims to manufacture a fleet of Starships to enable humans to build a sustainable colony on the Martian surface.
The rings you see running up the side of Starship prototypes every one point eight meters are an artifact of the fact it’s constructed using stainless steel. one point eight meters being the standard maximum roll height of commercial steel, so what’s inside that steel tube up on top in the nosecone, we find the payload compartment on current prototypes.
This has left more or less empty, but in time it will be fitted out into a multi functioning cargo Bay.
Alternatively, depending on the application and certainly only after they’ve got the hang of landing crew quarters here could hold about one hundred people comfortably on a trip to Mars. But I think mostly we would expect to see two or three people per cabin, and so nominally about one hundred people per flight to Mars.
This payload Bay would also host common areas, storage space and a shelter where folks could hide out in lined chambers from potentially cancer, causing freak solar storms. History is going to bifurcate along two directions. He told a conference earlier in the Starship program.
One path is we stay on Earth forever and then there will be some eventual extinction event. The alternative is to become a spacefaring civilization and a multi planet species, which I hope you would agree is the right way to go. It’s good to know somebody is on the case, at least.
Thanks for reading till the end.
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Information Source: Science Of Space