SpaceX Discussion Thread in Science & Spaceflight Posted June 22 Personally I think the interest in Starship is some of the military wanting a new toy. For moving cargo to a forward zone, in general I think they would be better off either para-dropping supplies from a transport aircraft or using helicopters/v-22 osprey. One possible exception is if a large isolated base (eg an island) was surrounded and cut-off from normal aircraft approach and in need of resupply. Even then I think that Starship would just be too vulnerable to interception. (I guess it is possible that no existing air to air missile is able to target something like Starship. But I'm sure that won't last if the military actually acquired some). Obviously that all changes if we have bases on the Moon or in space. The other exception is if they think they can use Starship as a giant fuel air bomb. 2 hours ago, RCgothic said: What's the suborbital range for a full starship, reserving enough fuel for a return trip? From memory a while ago Elon said that a full fuelled Starship (without any payload) had almost enough dV for orbital. So lets say about 9000 m/s. I think the Booster adds something like 2500 extra. So all up lets hypothetically say something like 12,000 m/s. When playing in RO/RP-1 the 3000km down-range contract needs roughly 6000 m/s of dV. So from those figures you might think that 2 sub-orbital hops of up to 3000 km each might work. But that is neglecting that Starship is designed to re-enter and land with a limited amount of fuel + cargo onboard. I don't know what Starship's re-entry mass limits are but lets guess at 100 tons dry mass, plus 100 tons cargo, plus 20 tons of fuel for landing. So a total mass at re-entry of about 220 tons. However the fuel needed for the return trip (6000 m/s + 300 m/s for landing) is roughly 450 tons. So to be able to fly that return trip Starship's total mass when landed on target needs to be about 550 tons. Fuel for landing would be another 45 tons or so. (Probably more like 50 tons, since a heavier Starship with the same cross-sectional area would have a higher terminal velocity, and would need more landing fuel). So mass at re-entry is probably about 600 tons. Note that all of this is with a zero ton payload, and without any allowance for landing legs. You might also need more mass to strengthen the flaps and their actuating mechanisms. Higher re-entry mass also means more energy to bleed off, however this is offset by lower re-entry velocity. Higher re-entry mass with the same cross-sectional area probably has some effect on altitude of peak heating and peak deceleration loads. Centre of mass is likely different as well. (Rotational inertia would definitely be larger, requiring either a longer flip or more engines for the flip, and hence even more landing propellant). I've got no idea what that the net effect of all of that would be other than to say you would need a new design study and probably significant design changes before a Starship optimised for a 220 ton re-entry wants to attempt a 600 ton re-entry. So even if a Starship has theoretically could have enough range for a return trip I don't think it is practical to land with that much fuel. (At least not without significant design changes).