July 20, 2020

What Will the Next Spaceship Look Like?

When I was a kid, I used to love taking books out of the library that had to do with the study of the universe. Most books of this type at the time (c. 1970s) often had a chapter near the end devoted to the future of space travel filled with artistic renderings of what it might look like in the 1990s, the 2000s, and beyond.

We are now well past the time that these books pointed to as “the future in space travel” and I am still enamored with the future concepts of some of our most ingenious engineers and visionaries. SpaceX is just one of those places—another “artistic playground” in many ways—where new ideas are being launched, both on the page and into orbit!

Most recently SpaceX announced a collaboration with NASA for a “lunar optimized starship.” The tall, slender capsule looks like something out of a science-fiction movie, yet very plausible for today’s engineers. I am, again, watching in wonder.

On the SpaceX website, the announcement states that this vehicle will be used to “transport crew between lunar orbit and the surface of the Moon as part of NASA’s Artemis program. A lunar optimized Starship can fly many times between the surface of the Moon and lunar orbit without flaps or heat shielding required for Earth return. With large habitable and storage volume, Starship is designed to deliver significant amounts of cargo for research and to support robust operations on the lunar surface to enable a sustainable Moon base.”

The last lunar base image I remember seeing was something like this:

We’ve come a long way, baby. Go, SpaceX!


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