SpaceX: Starship Project Update with Elon Musk

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His comments on the relative capital utilization of Starship v. jet aircraft were shockingly innumerate.

Based on a 20 hour* v. 45 minute flight time to SG, he asserted a twenty fold capital efficiency increase. But that ignores turnaround times. Even with identical turnaround times of ~1 hour at landing and takeoff you are at 22 hours v. 3 hours.

*Overestimate of actual flight time from TX.

Plus, myriad factors indicate against identical turnaround times.


There was subtle wave of the black flag in the introductory music to the presentation, which starts at the 3:42 mark in the video in the main post. SpaceX’s original reusability manifesto music video, “SpaceX Reusable Launch System”, from 2011:

was set to the anarchist anthem “Uprising” by Muse (lyrics).

This time, there are no lyrics, but the rhythm and bass line are unmistakably the same.

They will not force us
They will stop degrading us
They will not control us
We will be victorious

FAA, you’re on notice.

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Let’s not be too hard on Elon. He loves to think out loud, as we have all seen before, and he was answering an “out there” question off the cuff. In reality, a system designed to fly half way around the world would have to be very different from a system intended to take human beings to Mars. A Formula One race car is not a practical vehicle for popping down to the QuickieMart.

Rocket reusability is a huge challenge, as Musk made clear. Once (if?) it can be achieved, who knows what the consequences will be – any more than the guys who made the first integrated circuit could have anticipated watching an Elon Musk presentation live over the internet.

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Here is Scott Manley’s take on the SpaceX presentation.