SpaceX’s Starship is a reusable and refuellable rocket that will be both cheaper to make and to use than all other space vehicles. Throughout all of the history of space exploration, the cost of sending payload into Low Earth Orbit has been a limiting factor in any space agency’s ability to conduct the experiments they want. Launch costs are upwards of ten thousand dollars per kilogram, causing pedestrian launches to cost in the nine digits.
Starship turns this paradigm on its head
Rather than costing ten thousand dollars per kilogram, it will cost fifty. Cutting the cost by a factor of two hundred and increasing the total amount of cargo able to be carried by Space Programs. The options are limitless. NASA will be able to do much more on the same budget and SpaceX aims to set up a seamless system of transporting objects from Earth’s surface to LEO.
The Starship program is far from a pipe dream. SpaceX has made tremendous progress in the past two years and there is no telling what the future holds. Two years ago Starship was just a prototype, and in this past year it has completed ten kilometer high flights and stuck the landing.
Yet amidst all this, NASA has largely ignored the technological progress. The Artemis project, which seeks to return to the moon, should be completely changed due to Starship’s success. However, even though SpaceX won the NASA contract and Starship will be used in the mission, NASA is still operating as if the cargo cost will be in the thousands per kilogram. It won’t be. NASA is at risk of being left behind if it fails to adapt; Starship is the future whether they like it or not.