SpaceX’s latest render of their Starship vehicle reflects many of the changes Elon has recently been talking about.
Starship render design changes
SpaceX has a similar render on their website from before these changes. There are a few major changes in the render. The Super Heavy booster no longer has the landing legs & flap combination at the base of the booster. They are no longer needed as the booster will be caught by the launch tower rather than landing on legs. The booster also features fixed rectangular grid fins rather than folding grid fins like on the previous render.
The new render on the Starship vehicle seems to have slightly smaller flaps, with the aerodynamic cowling ahead of the flaps being adjusted to optimize for reentry. The windows have also been moved back from the nose of Starship while getting smaller with fewer curves.
The latest render also seems to more realistically represent the thermal protection. The leeward side of the flaps is no longer entirely covered in the black thermal protection tile.
Two different Starship renders by SpaceX. Latest render on right.
Don’t be overly reliant on render accuracy
While the new render seems to more accurately reflect the current design goals for Starship, it is important to keep in mind that these are still just artists’ renders. We have seen regular design changes to Starship and can expect to see many more. This render doesn’t show that change in flap location toward the leeward side of Starship. We only learned about the flaps would be moved late last month, so it may take some time to be implemented. The relocation of flaps will allow Starship to enter more nose forward, and protect the raptor engines from the plasma of reentry.
With the increased angle of attack, they may need the thermal protection tiles to extend slightly farther onto the leeward side of the vehicle.
Nonetheless, it is exciting to see this new render of what will soon become the largest rocket to ever fly.