Elon Musk recently showed off the heat shield technology that is being featured in the SpaceX’s Starship. According to Elon Musk, the heat shield technology will help the company to accelerate the production of SpaceX Starship and Super Heavy rocket systems.
The heat shield technology was shown off in a short video that Elon Musk tweeted. It shows the SpaceX engineers blasting a stainless steel heat shield using flamethrowers. According to Elon, the flamethrowers helped in spiking the temperature to 1100 degrees Celsius. This temperature is, of course, much lower than what the Starship will be experiencing during re-entry; however, this is only the first of the many tests that the spacecraft will be going through.
This video shows just how serious Elon Musk is about the new ship’s redesign that was announced last year. You can learn why the company has opted for stainless steel as well! The material that was ousted was carbon fiber. As per Elon Musk, the heat shield technology that is imparted to stainless steel will help them move up the schedule. (Although nature has some other plans.)
Although, Elon Musk does admit that the stainless steel is heavier as opposed to the carbon fiber. However, it is lighter than the other metals that can be used. It is also quite easy to work with, and it actually gets enhanced strength once it is in a cryogenic environment.
Once the design was shifted for incorporating the stainless steel, Elon Musk was able to check out a different sort of heat shield technology that Starship could use when reentering. Generally, heat shields are crated of special ceramic tiles that can be bonded to the windward side of the fuselage. Musk, however, has relied on transpiration cooling!
According to Musk’s design, there will be two layers of stainless steel affixed on the windward side. These two layers will be filled with either fuel or water. The outer layer of the stainless steel will have micro-perforations that will bleed out the liquid and cool the windward side of the ship.
Stainless steel can maintain its integrity at temperatures up to 1500 degrees Fahrenheit making it far more capable of handling reentry, in theory, as opposed to carbon fiber or aluminum. Let’s see if this pans out in favor of Elon Musk.