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Why SpaceX's Starship Is Made Out Of Stainless Steel According To Elon Musk
By ELI SHAYOTOVICH
The grand plan for Starship, Space X's interplanetary spaceship, is to build a reusable transportation system to ferry people, satellites, and cargo into space. Fitted with Raptor, a reusable methalox staged-combustion engine (the first ever flown), it is intended to help colonize Mars or travel to whatever missions may lie beyond the final frontier.
In a January 2019 “Popular Mechanics” interview, Elon Musk said that Starship's hull would be made of stainless steel instead of carbon fiber mainly because it was cheaper, although it also has additional benefits. According to Musk, SpaceX spent nearly $200 per kilogram of carbon fiber, and as much as 35% was thrown away because of the cutting and shaping process.
Stainless steel costs $3 per kilogram and has a much higher melting point, making it a more robust material for the heat it would encounter during reentry. While carbon fiber has a steady-state operating temperature of about 300 degrees Fahrenheit, stainless steel can withstand temperatures as high as 1,600 degrees Fahrenheit (via Space).