The starship is approaching, and the race is “on”.

A lobbyist interviewed by Politico confirmed that the imminent arrival of SpaceX’s futuristic Spearhead starship evokes a mixture of admiration and fear among its poorer competitors.

Since the design of the famous starship began, SpaceX’s future spearhead has been regularly presented as the next great revolution in space. And even if Musk has a habit of exaggerating, it must be admitted that this car shows absolutely incredible potential.

As is often the case in these areas, this highly anticipated baptism has already been postponed several times. This makes more sense as the technical challenges are huge. As a reminder, Starship is the most versatile space vehicle, but aims to be the most powerful in the world. Best of all, it is designed to be completely reusable

SpaceX, it’s a titan in the thick

This last point, in particular, is already enough to make it an extraordinary device. Moreover, already thanks to the vision that SpaceX’s Falcon 9 launchers have completely transformed space. This method makes it possible to achieve considerable savings in an area where everything is very expensive, and it represents a Huge competitive advantage ; It is no coincidence that the firm has dominated the sector for several years.

SpaceX regularly honors contracts with NASA and private organizations The firm boasts an impressive track record, with numerous trips to the ISS and a large number of orbital launches to its credit. He inherited highly prestigious missions, particularly for the Pentagon. Musk’s troops also won the tender for the design of the HLS, the vehicle that will return humans to the moon during the Artemis III mission (see our article).

However, this gap will likely widen as Starship launches. And as the first flight approached, a wave of panic began to sweep through the rest of the industry.

At any rate, that’s what emerged from the Politico poll. American media interviewed an American lobbyist who works for the competition and who has long been a detractor of SpaceX. But in recent months, he has come to terms with reality; He pulls out all the stops when addressing his clients’ situations.

The competition is grim

They are tearing up the bed “, she said. Depending on the context (and in a more polite version), this flower formula can mean “ They are getting over it “where” They are going straight to the wall ” But in both cases, the explanation is the same: there is a The tension is palpable among SpaceX competitorsWhether personal 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 massive launcher that is today the cornerstone of the Artemis program. It was this machine that carried the Orion capsule into space on November 16 (see our article).

Starship is ready for the future, but that’s not the case with SLS, NASA’s latest juggernaut. © NASA/Joel Kowsky

But the future of this machine looks anything but bright. Apart from its staggering cost (several billions for development, and over 2 billion per launch), it has the major drawback of not being reusable. Important limitations that make him an ideal candidate for the next big meeting. Especially for colonization efforts that would require many launches.

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

So with the arrival of the starship it can be more or less forgotten. “ If SLS can’t fly more than once every few years, it won’t be a significant competitor in the future, especially when Starships fly. “, insists the lobbyist.

A paradigm shift with far-reaching consequences

Rand Simberg, an engineer and consultant who knows the behind-the-scenes of the industry well, is more serious. ” Once the reliability of the new system is demonstrated with a large number of flights, which could happen within a few months, it will immediately make all other launchers obsolete. “, that hammer.

What is clear now is that no one will be able to offer a more efficient vehicle before Starships enter the scene. So competitors have no choice but to be upset by what Politico describes. A mixture of admiration and fear

© SpaceX

Last month, Musk suggested that Starship could have its first orbit in December. Once this step is completed, the test must be repeated several times to prove the machine’s reliability, which will take at least a few months.

But at this point, the industry will see an unparalleled juggernaut and we will likely witness a profound transformation of the global space. Actually, it’s not just about North America; Starship’s performance and its cost will likely be so attractive that other companies may give its sirens to the fury of the competition. One thinks especially of ESA, which made a big mistake when developing its next Ariane 6 launcher (see our article).

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

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