If you grew up in the era of NASA’s space shuttle, you probably developed a few ideas about what “normal” looks like in space, especially when it comes to waste. Even the oft-touted re-usability of the shuttle itself came at the expense of detachable rocket boosters and one massive fuel tank.
Rockets were no different. The Apollo mission’s massive Saturn V, the most powerful rocket mankind has ever produced, didn’t really make the trip to the moon; it’s comparably tiny payload did. The rest of the sky-scraper sized rocket was sacrificed in the effort. Today, SpaceX has already revolutionized re-usability for space-faring vessels by building its first stage boosters to land themselves, but overall, the model hasn’t changed. In order to get where you’re going, you’ve got to lose a whole lot of the rocket along the way, but that may be changing.
Starship test vehicle under assembly will look similar to this illustration when finished. Operational Starships would obv have windows, etc. pic.twitter.com/D8AJ01mjyR
— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) January 5, 2019