International Space Agencies – Missions and Discoveries

How SpaceX’s Starship can revolutionise space travel and exploration?


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: Starship space vehicle and its features

Why in the News?

  • SpaceX’s Starship rocket completed its first fully successful test flight. This test flight brings SpaceX closer to its goal of creating a fully reusable rocket system, a development that could revolutionize space exploration and travel.

What is Starship?

  • Starship is a two-stage heavy lift-off vehicle designed for crew and cargo transport to Earth orbit, the Moon, Mars, and beyond.
  • It stands nearly 120 meters tall, surpassing the Saturn V rocket.
  • The Super Heavy booster is powered by 33 Raptor engines, generating significant thrust, surpassing existing rocket systems like NASA’s Space Launch System (SLS).
  • Raptor engine fuel uses a mix of liquid oxygen and liquid methane, enabling efficient propulsion for the rocket.

Cost Reduction and Efficiency with Starship

  • Starship can carry up to 150 tonnes of payload to low-Earth orbit.
  • It can be refuelled in space, thereby promising a significant reduction in the cost of space travel.
  • In-orbit refuelling allows Starship to operate like an aeroplane, reducing downtime between missions and maximizing efficiency.
  • Starship’s fully reusable design minimizes the need for costly hardware replacement, unlike traditional rocket systems.

Scientific Benefits of Starship

  • Enhanced Payload Capability: Starship’s capacity for heavy payloads enables the launch of larger space telescopes and equipment for lunar and Martian missions.
  • Exploration Potential: Scientists can deploy larger and more sophisticated instruments, such as drilling rigs, to explore the Moon and Mars in unprecedented detail.
  • Sample Return Missions: Starship’s capability to return to Earth facilitates the retrieval of valuable samples from other planets, aiding in scientific research and understanding.


[2018] With reference to India’s satellite launch vehicles, consider the following statements:

  1. PSLVs launch satellites useful for Earth resources monitoring whereas GSLVs are designed mainly to launch communication satellites.
  2. Satellites launched by PSLV appear to remain permanently fixed in the same position in the sky, as viewed from a particular location on Earth.
  3. GSLV Mk III is a four-stage launch vehicle with the first and third stages using solid rocket motors, and the second and fourth stages using liquid rocket engines.

Which of the statements given above is/are correct?

(a) 1 only
(b) 2 and 3
(c) 1 and 2
(d) 3 only

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