SpaceX is making water-cooled steel plate for launching and landing the two stages of the SpaceX Super Heavy Starship. The launch and landing pad challenges for the moon and Mars are far less than for the Earth.
For the Moon, NASA has awarded a lunar landing pad contract to ICON.
From the lab to the field to the Moon….it’s time to build. Check out ICON’s Project Olympus –> https://t.co/H9OSxGLK3v #lunarconstruction @NASA @NASA_Technology pic.twitter.com/Y62ailxPF4
— ICON (@ICON3DTech) November 29, 2022
This contract, which is valued at $57.2 million and runs through 2028, is a continuation of ICON’s current Small Business Innovation Research dual-use contract with the U.S. Air Force which is partly funded by NASA. The new contract will support the development of ICON’s Olympus construction system that will use local resources on Mars and the moon to build materials.
ICON has previously printed a 1,700-square-foot simulated Martian habitat that will be used during NASA’s analog mission starting in 2023.
ICON is also working on 3D printing buildings, bases and other structures on Mars. They have done test construction on Earth.
Changing the Location of Landing Engines for Lunar and Mars Landing
For the moon, SpaceX Lunar Starship has small engines mounted near the top about 100 feet from the base.
Thus it can land and take off without wrecking the regolith. The moon’s gravity is 1/6th of Earth gravity. This means 1/6th of the thrust for take off and landing. However, we are also only landing the upper stage which is only 25% of the total weight with the booster. First landing is with almost empty fuel tanks. There is 1200 tons of fuel in a 200 ton vehicle and then another 100 tons of payload. It should be landing with about 300 tons of weight. A Lunar Starship would be landing with 1% of the thrust of Earth booster and Starship launch.
After, Lunar Starship lands on the moon then a landing and launch pad needs to be built.
Mars has 38% of Earth Gravity. A rocket needs 38% of the thrust to take off and land versus the same weight on Earth. Starship only is landing. The Super heavy booster is not landing on Mars. Starship has 25% of the mass of the combined two stages and has 7 engines instead of 33. 9.5% of total Earth launch thrust. First Landing would be nearly empty fuel tanks. Land once with about 3% of the thrust and then build the launchpad.
There is talk about adding binder into the exhaust or dropping a deployable temporary landing pad material. This would mitigate debris on the first landing.
I think SpaceX will need to make over-sized landing thrusters for the Mars Starship. Oversized relatively to the Lunar Starship landing thrusters.
Brian Wang is a Futurist Thought Leader and a popular Science blogger with 1 million readers per month. His blog Nextbigfuture.com is ranked #1 Science News Blog. It covers many disruptive technology and trends including Space, Robotics, Artificial Intelligence, Medicine, Anti-aging Biotechnology, and Nanotechnology.
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