Elon Musk is currently the CEO of two of the world’s most daring companies. Electric car company Musk plans to found Tesla to convert the world to sustainable energy. His second project, SpaceX, plans to make humanity a multi-planetary species, with the direct goal of colonizing Mars.
And the two companies, which were once small businesses on the brink of bankruptcy, have now grown to be giants in their industries. Tesla has grown to become by far the world’s largest automaker by market value.
Even more impressively, SpaceX has grown to completely dominate the rocket launch business. Currently, the Musk space project accounts for about 75% of the world’s rocket launches. This includes all private space companies and nation states.
Related news: Elon Musk says China’s policy on not spreading the coronavirus made Tesla’s first quarter very difficult
However, despite the resounding success of both companies, there is a stark contrast between the stated goal of Musk’s projects. Tesla plans to wean humanity away from using fossil fuels for energy.
While at the same time, SpaceX’s continued success means using more and more methane and RP1 (a high-precision form of kerosene similar to jet fuel) to power its rockets. And over the years, many individuals have pointed out this inconsistency and wondered if SpaceX could incorporate some of Tesla’s technology to make the former more sustainable.
Musk has said in the past that all forms of transportation will eventually switch to electricity, with the only exception being spaceflight. However, Musk never gave the exact number behind why rockets will forever remain an exception. That is, at least until today.
The Tesla CEO gave us more details in response to Space YouTuber and Tesla owner EverydayAstronaut. EverydayAstronaut on Twitter asked for a “good source of Tesla Model S Plaid engine weight/output” to show why electric motors can’t be used to power rocket engines.
Related news: Tesla (TSLA) ends Q1 2022 with only 17 vehicles in the US
In his response, Musk said that the turboprops (pumps that transfer fuel from rocket tanks to the combustion chamber) of SpaceX’s latest engine, the Raptor, has a pumping power of more than 100 megawatts. Each spacecraft will be equipped with 33 engines, which means the engines will need to produce 3 watts of power.
Raptor pump power is more than 100MW per motor and 33 motors, which means more than 3GW. It is not even remotely possible for electric motors and batteries to compete.
– Elon Musk 3 April 2022
To put this in perspective, the Model S Plaid has 3 motors with an output power of 300 kW, which means that to operate just one spacecraft with Model S Plaid motors, you would need about 10,000 motors.
Related news: Tesla Giga Berlin produces one Model Y every 150 seconds
To make matters worse, the use of turbopumps in the rocket function using the same fuel as the rocket’s main combustion chamber; However, if you choose to use electric motors, you will need to store this energy in the form of batteries. The batteries needed to power the spacecraft alone will weigh several times the weight of the entire rocket.
In addition, all these engines and batteries are only required to replace the propellant pumping mechanism from the fuel tank to the main combustion chamber. Meaning that the rocket will still need to run on fossil fuels.
The absurdity of the number of engines and batteries it would take to power a single rocket should calm once and for all to quell hopes that, using Tesla technology, SpaceX can build a sustainable rocket. Having said that, it is still a dream to someday merge the two companies into one and join forces to build an electric vertical take-off vertical landing aircraft.
As of now, this possibility feels like there are ways out, but we’ll be sure to keep you posted if we get more information. Until then, be sure to visit our torquenews.com/Tesla site regularly for the latest updates.
What do you think? Amazed at the enormity of the motors and batteries it would take to power the spacecraft? Let me know your thoughts in the comments below.
picture: Official SpaceX photos on Flicker
For more information see: Tesla Cyber Rodeo Coming to Gigafactory in Texas, big mega package included as power reserve too, see Sen. Elizabeth Warren says she celebrates the success of Tesla CEO Elon Musk
Tinsae Aregay has been following Tesla and developing its EV space on a daily basis for several years. It covers everything about Tesla from cars to Elon Musk, energy work and autonomy. Follow Tinsae on Twitter at Tweet embed For daily Tesla news.