Elon Musk says SpaceX's new Starship will use 300 Series stainless steel.
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There could be no one else in the world right now who is as excited about stainless steel as Elon Musk is right now. Musk, Founder and CEO of SpaceX, tweeted a photo of a conical section of a rocket standing next to cylinder with spread-out legs on Christmas Eve. His caption read simply, “Stainless Steel Starship”. According to an older tweet of his, Starship is the name of the upper-most stage of the company’s next-generation rocket. It was previously called Big Falcon Rocket (or BFR, in short).
According to a recent report by Space.com, the privately owned space agency has been testing a new Starship test article named “hopper” for low-altitude flight at its South Texas launch site. The low-altitude tests would take the hopper no higher than 500 metres, and the high-altitude tests, as high as 5,000 metres. These tests are expected to happen in early 2019. In an earlier tweet dated December 22, Musk wrote, “I will do a full technical presentation of Starship after the test vehicle we're building in Texas flies, so hopefully March/April”.
In his tweets, Musk was particularly excited about the choice of materials used in the Starship. It is, according to him, stainless steel but a family of alloys called 300 Series, which is capable of maintaining its integrity even at high temperatures. According to the company’s original plans presented a couple of years ago, the materials to be used on Starship were made of carbon composite, which are lightweight but stronger. Earlier this month, Musk announced that SpaceX had decided to go with 300 Series, a “fairly heavy metal”.
Musk also talked previously about a “superalloy” SpaceX developed for Raptor called SX500, which is designed to endure hot gases rich in oxygen under pressures of up to 12,000 pounds per square inch. “Almost any metal turns into a flare in those conditions,” Musk added in one of his older tweets. He also noted that SpaceX’s foundry for producing SX500 was “almost fully operational”. Raptor is SpaceX’s new engine under development. It uses staged combustion with methane as fuel.
I will do a full technical presentation of Starship after the test vehicle we’re building in Texas flies, so hopefully March/April— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) 22 December 2018
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