Elon Musk’s aerospace company SpaceX has stopped pursuing the development of the mini-BFR (Big Falcon Rocket). Instead, the firm will focus on accelerating the development of its interplanetary transportation system, the BFR (renamed Starship). The revelation was made by Elon Musk on Twitter.
Accelerating Starship development
Starship is the name of the upper stage of the transportation system. The rocket booster will actually be known as “Super Heavy.” The renaming followed a significant redesign of the BFR, done a couple of months ago. The new spaceship will now be 23 feet longer at 180 feet. SpaceX also changed the rear engines to seven sea-level engines. The earlier designs had two sea-level and four space-ready engines.
Super Heavy will be equipped with 31 Raptor engines that will allow the rocket to lift up to 100 metric tons from Earth into space. Once the Starship is past the Earth’s atmosphere, the two stages will detach and the Starship’s seven engines will power it forward for the rest of the trip.
Starship is currently under development at a shipyard in Los Angeles, which SpaceX had leased in March this year. The company is expected to start testing the Starship sometime next year and is planning to file a license for it very soon. The tests will likely be conducted a few miles from the firm’s Boca Chica facility in Texas.
“The tests themselves are divided into low‐altitude and higher‐altitude tests. The low‐altitude tests stay below 500 meters in altitude and last approximately 100 seconds. These tests will be run approximately three times per week during the initial portion of the program. The higher‐altitude tests can go as high as 5 km and will occur approximately once per week. These tests last approximately 6 minutes,” according to Next Big Future.
SpaceX has big plans for the Starship. According to Musk, Starship will be able to take human beings anywhere on Earth in under 60 minutes. However, the main purpose of the vehicle will be to help humanity establish a Martian colony. Two unmanned trips to Mars in 2022 have been planned as of now. The Starship is also expected to take a group of around eight people on a privately funded tour of the Moon in 2023.
The Moon mission
The first crewed Moon mission will take 42-year-old Japanese billionaire Yusaku Maezawa and a chosen few artists for a four to five day trip of Earth’s only natural satellite.
“In 2023, as the host, I would like to invite six to eight artists from around the world to join me on this mission to the Moon… These artists will be asked to create something when they return to Earth… These masterpieces will inspire the dreamer inside all of us. Needless to say, we’ve always been inspired by the Moon. Take, for example, Beethoven’s Moonlight Sonata, Van Gogh’s Starry Night, and The Beatles’ Mr. Moonlight,” Maezawa said in a statement (Inverse).
The billionaire has yet to decide the artists who will join him on the historic trip. But the completion of the mission will be critical not only for SpaceX, but for the entire private aerospace industry. Following the moon trip, SpaceX has planned two crewed missions to Mars by 2024, which will act as the stepping stone for eventually creating a settlement on the red planet.