Two of Tesla's Starship Mk1’s actuating wings were installed on Sunday, revealing a serious departure from the original design unveiled by Musk and SpaceX.
Musk took to Twitter this morning to reveal the installation of the rear wings.
Adding the rear moving fins to Starship Mk1 in Boca Chica, Texas pic.twitter.com/HWLihqihph— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) September 22, 2019
Musk said, in a now removed tweet, that the most recent design will include several legs on the rear of Starship, separating the fin-leg combination shown in previous tripod-fin renders.
However, Musk said that he had not completely “bought into” the updated design, which was motivated by analysis showing that separating the legs would be preferable to combining them. Similar to the 2018 design, the 2019 version of the Starship will have 2 actuating wings or fins near its rear and another two canard-like control surfaces up near the nose of the rocket.
A third non-functional fin could potentially serve as a leg-stand in the new design. The control surfaces will work in concert with “very rapid movements” to ensure stability during reentry and atmospheric missions and also give the spacecraft the ability to land on a variety of surfaces.
Since the actuating fins no longer have to reach the ground and double as landing legs, their size can be significantly reduced and therefore placed further up from the starship’s engine.
According to Teslarati, the company appears to be prioritising Starship Mk1 in order to get the prototype as close to complete as possible over the next several days.
Musk is scheduled to present an updated design overview of the spacecraft in Boca Chica, Texas, to be live-streamed by SpaceX on Saturday, September 28. He is likely to place the Starship Mk1 prototype as the centrepiece of the event, which would explain the rush for completion.