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RE: starship-design: Planetary Landing


A starship only has to be designed to accommodate acceleration stresses in
one direction only. Any stresses that may be placed upon the structure of
the ship in other directions than straight "ahead" are miniscule. A vehicle
reentering the atmosphere however, is subjected to transverse stresses on
several planes at once and these stresses can easily "peak" at hundreds of

The added weight of structural elements to resist these forces would double
the weight of the ship easily. In addition, if it must be designed to
support itself while on the ground, you can add even more mass. (This is one
of the reasons why early science fiction authors liked to land their ships
in water, it helped to spread out the structural load.)

So far, based on known technology, the ship will probably mass between
400,000 and 4,000,000 million metric tons. I can't see trying to land
something that size ANYWHERE.