Click to Skip Ad
Closing in...

SpaceX’s Starship may rely on a popular sci-fi concept to create gravity

Published Mar 11th, 2024 9:37PM EDT
spacex starship inaugural launch reveal
Image: Miguel Roberts/The Brownsville Herald via AP

If you buy through a BGR link, we may earn an affiliate commission, helping support our expert product labs.

The idea of using artificial gravity isn’t new. In fact, we’ve seen it as a staple of science fiction entertainment for years. But Elon Musk says he wants to take the sci-fi notion and make it real by creating artificial gravity on Starship’s long-term mission to Mars.

It’s no secret that Musk, the CEO of SpaceX, wants to send a ship full of humans to Mars. There are hopes of colonizing the Red Planet, but to do that, we first have to survive the trip. Considering it will take quite a while, roughly seven months, the astronauts aboard need a way to keep their bone density up.

That’s where artificial gravity comes into play on Starship. When Id Software founder John Carmack suggested that SpaceX should try to spin its Dragon shuttle to create what we call spin gravity, the SpaceX CEO shared that they have a plan in place to make Starship spin.

His reasoning, of course, was that “even a tiny gravity vector is better than none.” Naturally, he hasn’t shared any details on how exactly SpaceX hopes to accomplish such a feat. But, if SpaceX is able to create spin gravity on Starship, it will be a huge step forward for long-term space missions.

Bone density loss is a huge issue that astronauts spending long stints in the expansive vacuum will need to be concerned with. A study in 2022 showed that astronauts aboard the ISS suffer a shocking amount of bone loss during their missions. As such, sending humans seven months into space (and then some) would require a way to combat that loss.

Creating artificial gravity on bigger space shuttles like Starship could be the answer. But to pull off such a feat, the spacecraft will need to be quite large. It will also need to spin at a reasonable rate to generate enough centrifugal force to actually create gravity.

Additionally, there’s the entire factor of motion sickness, which some astronauts may have to contend with because of the spinning. We’re still a long way off from sending humans to Mars. But, if SpaceX can figure out how to spin gravity on Starship, it will push the possibilities of space travel much further than we can imagine.

Josh Hawkins has been writing for over a decade, covering science, gaming, and tech culture. He also is a top-rated product reviewer with experience in extensively researched product comparisons, headphones, and gaming devices.

Whenever he isn’t busy writing about tech or gadgets, he can usually be found enjoying a new world in a video game, or tinkering with something on his computer.