But the goal is not to build a Starship. As the article explains, Musk is really building a production line for Starships. Similar to the production hell Tesla went through in 2017 and 2018, which turned out to be a success as the electric car maker can now produce as many as 10,000 cars a week.
The aim is to achieve something similar with Starship, by setting up the infrastructure to build a lot of rockets. Musk projects that by the end of this year, SpaceX will be able to build one Starship a week. After that, the company may go even faster as the Boca Chica factory is designed in a way that it should be able to ramp production to one Starship every 72 hours.
Each of these rockets will be able to launch more payload than the Saturn V. But why are so many rockets necessary? According to Musk, on the order of 1,000 Starships are needed to make Mars habitable:
“No, it’s absolutely mad, I agree,” Musk said. “The conventional space paradigms do not apply to what we’re doing here. We’re trying to build a massive fleet to make Mars habitable, to make life multi-planetary. I think we need, probably, on the order of 1,000 ships, and each of those ships would have more payload than the Saturn V—and be reusable.”You can read the full piece over here.
“The point at which one says the goal is to make life multi-planetary, it means that we need to have a self-sustaining city on Mars,” Musk said. “That city has to survive if the resupply ships stop coming from Earth for any reason whatsoever. Doesn’t matter why. If those resupply ships stop coming, does the city die out or not? In order to make something self-sustaining, you can’t be missing anything. You must have all the ingredients. It can’t be like, well this thing is self-sustaining except for this one little thing that we don’t have. It can’t be. That’d be like saying, ‘Well, we went on this long sea voyage, and we had everything except vitamin C.’ OK, great. Now you’re going to get scurvy and die—and painfully, by the way. It’s going to suck. You’re going to die slowly and painfully for lack of vitamin C. So we’ve got to make sure we’ve got the vitamin C there on Mars. Then it’s like, OK, rough order of magnitude, what kind of tonnage do you need to make it self-sustaining? It’s probably not less than a million tons.”