Starship is closing in and the competition is “up”

A lobbyist interviewed by Politico says that the imminent arrival of the Starship, SpaceX’s future spearhead, arouses a mixture of admiration and horror among its poor competitors.

Ever since design for the famous Starship began, SpaceX’s future spearhead has regularly been touted as the next big revolution in aerospace. And even if Musk has a habit of exaggerating, it has to be admitted that this vehicle has absolutely incredible potential.

As usual in this area, this long-awaited baptism has already been postponed several times. This is all the more understandable because the technical challenges are enormous. As a reminder, Starship aims to become the most versatile but also the most powerful rover in the world. Best of all, it’s designed to be completely reusable.

SpaceX, a titan in the middle of it

This last point, in particular, is enough to make it an extraordinary device. Moreover, it is already thanks to this philosophy that SpaceX’s Falcon 9 launchers have completely transformed the aerospace sector. This approach allows obtaining substantial savings in an area where everything is extremely expensive, which represents a huge competitive advantage πŸ‡§πŸ‡· it is no coincidence that the company has been scandalously dominating this sector for several years.

SpaceX regularly honors contracts with NASA and private companies. The company has an impressive track record, with many trips to the ISS and a large number of orbital launches to its credit. She also inherited very prestigious missions, mostly on behalf of the Pentagon. Musk’s troops also won the bid for the HLS project, the vehicle that will take humans back to the Moon during the Artemis III mission (see our article).

However, this gap is likely to widen further with the commissioning of the Starship. And as the inaugural flight approaches, a wave of panic begins to spread through the rest of the industry.

In any case, this is what emerges from a Politico survey. The American media interviewed an American lobbyist who works for the competition and who has long been one of SpaceX’s detractors. But in recent months, he’s come to terms with the facts; he made every effort in addressing his clients situation.

The competition is dark

πŸ‡§πŸ‡· They are shitting on the bed “, he said. Depending on the context (and in a more polite version), this flowery formula can mean “ They are getting over it ” Where ” They are heading straight for the wall “. But in both cases the interpretation is the same: there is a palpable excitement among SpaceX competitorswhether private or institutional.

This particularly concerns NASA and its historic industrial partners such as Boeing, Lockheed Martin and Northrop Grumman. Together they developed the Space Launch System (SLS), a huge launcher that is now the cornerstone of the Artemis program. It was this machine that took the Orion capsule into space on November 16 (see our article).

The Starship is forward-looking, but that’s not the case with the SLS, NASA’s latest juggernaut. Β© NASA/Joel Kowsky

But the future for this machine looks anything but bright. In addition to its staggering cost (several tens of billions for development and over 2 billion per release), it has the big drawback of not being reusable. Important restrictions that make you an almost ideal candidate for the next big meetings. Especially for colonization efforts that will require many launches.

Additionally, SpaceX’s supply chain will allow it to launch its machines fairly regularly. The SLS, on the other hand, will fly much less frequently. Its second flight, scheduled for the Artemis II mission, probably won’t arrive until 2024.

It could therefore be more or less forgotten with the arrival of the starship. πŸ‡§πŸ‡· If the SLS can’t fly more than once every few years, it won’t be a significant competitor in the future, especially when the Starship flies. β€œ, insists the lobbyist.

A paradigm shift with far-reaching consequences

Rand Simberg, an engineer and consultant who knows the industry inside out, is even sterner. πŸ‡§πŸ‡· Once the reliability of the new system has been demonstrated with a large number of flights, which could be in a few months, it would immediately render all other launchers obsolete. ’ he hammers.

What is now obvious is that no one will be able to offer a more efficient vehicle before the Starship arrives on the scene. Competitors therefore have no choice but to worry about what Politico describes as a ” mixture of admiration and horror πŸ‡§πŸ‡·

Β© SpaceX

Last month, Musk hinted that Starship could be entitled to its first orbit during the month of December. Once this step is completed, the experiment will have to be repeated several times to prove the reliability of the machine, which will take at least a few months.

But at this point, the industry will see an unparalleled juggernaut arrive and we will likely witness a profound transformation of the global aerospace sector. In fact, it’s not just about North America; Starship’s performance and cost are likely to be so interesting that other agencies may give in to its sirens, much to the chagrin of the competition. One thinks in particular of the ESA, which made a mistake at large widths when developing its next launcher Ariane 6 (see our article).

Suffice it to say that the fall promises to be particularly tough for the historic giants who have been resting on their laurels for some time. All you have to do is prepare the popcorn!

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