SpaceX’s Starship can lift a lot more than we thought

Using a Starship from Musk’s SpaceX company could become the newest form of container shipping

Well, mostly it’s technical data, and even that’s more like background information and high-level overviews than how to “use” anything. The concrete takeaways are intended for just one group: “Potential Starship customers can use this guide as a resource for preliminary payload accommodations information.”

In that sense, using a Starship from Musk’s SpaceX company could become the newest form of container shipping. Having a standardized, predictable amount of space across a fleet is exactly what led to the development of cargo containers, which reduced cost across almost all legs of shipping by saving fussy labor to load and unload individual items or boxes. Musk has even used recycled cargo containers in the building of his SpaceX Starship headquarters.

Inverse reported that a Twitter user first noticed the potentially huge payload a Starship can carry into low Earth orbit. A table in the user guide lists 100 tons, but from other math in the table, one can extrapolate that number is more like 150 tons. That means the entire decommissioned Mir space station could be taken up in one launch.

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Even for a much higher altitude of orbit, the Starship still purports to carry up to 21 tons. That number is large enough to include virtually all the different satellite models ever launched or the entire Apollo lunar lander unit. And the user guide (seen below) offers a tantalizingly real call to action, like any piece of sales collateral: “For payload specific loads or rideshare loads assessments, contact”

Read more: Popular Mechanics