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The Big Falcon Rocket (officially shortened to BFR) is a privately-funded, fully-reusable launch vehicle and spacecraft system in development by SpaceX. In November 2018 the second stage and ship was renamed by Elon Musk to Starship, while the first stage was given the moniker "Super Heavy". The overall space vehicle architecture includes both launch vehicle and spacecraft, as well as ground infrastructure for rapid launch and relaunch, and zero-gravity propellant transfer technology to be deployed in low Earth orbit (LEO). The payload capacity to Earth orbit of at least 100,000 kg (220,000 lb) makes BFR a super heavy-lift launch vehicle. The first orbital flight is tentatively planned for 2020.[6]

1st stage: "Super Heavy"
2nd stage: Starship
BFR in flight (cropped).png
Artistic rendition of the Big Falcon Rocket during ascent
Function
ManufacturerSpaceX
Country of originUnited States
Project costUS$5 billion, estimated[2]
Size
Height118 m (387 ft)
Diameter9 m (30 ft)
Mass4,400,000 kg (9,700,000 lb)[3] [needs update]
Stages2
Capacity
Payload to LEO100,000+ kg (220,000+ lb)
(fully reusable)[2]
Payload to Moon100,000+ kg (220,000+ lb)
(with orbital refueling)[4]
Payload to Mars100,000+ kg (220,000+ lb)
(with orbital refueling)[2][4]
Launch history
StatusIn development[5]
Launch sitesTest flights: Operational flights:
Not selected, options include:
Transcontinental shuttle:
  • Outside major cities[1]
First flight2020 (planned)[6]
First stage – Super Heavy[7]
Length63 m (207 ft)[2]
Diameter9 m (30 ft)
Gross mass3,065,000 kg (6,757,000 lb) [needs update]
Engines31 × Raptor[8]
Thrust61.8 MN (13,900,000 lbf)[2]
Specific impulse330 s (3.2 km/s)[1]
FuelSubcooled CH
4
 / LOX
Second stage – Starship[7]
Length55 m (180 ft)[2]
Diameter9 m (30 ft)
Empty mass85,000 kg (187,000 lb) [needs update]
Gross mass1,335,000 kg (2,943,000 lb) [needs update]
Propellant mass
Engines7 × Raptor (Outer six engines and exterior cargo storage can be swapped for vacuum-optimized engines)[2]
Thrust13.9 MN (3,100,000 lbf)[2]
Specific impulse380 s (3.7 km/s) (vacuum)[2]
FuelSubcooled CH
4
 / LOX

SpaceX has been developing a super heavy-lift launch vehicle for many years, with the exact design (and nomenclature) of the vehicle undergoing multiple revisions over time. Before 2016, the vehicle was referred to as the Mars Colonial Transporter (MCT), then in 2016 Elon Musk presented the vehicle as the ITS launch vehicle, forming a core part of Musk's comprehensive vision for an Interplanetary Transport System (ITS).[3][9] In September 2017, the design changed and was renamed BFR. It incorporates downrated Raptor engines and a split flap added at the aft of the second stage to enhance attitude control in different planetary atmospheres.[10][11]

The launch vehicle design is dependent on the concurrent development work on the Raptor rocket engines, which are cryogenic methalox-fueled engines to be used for both stages of the BFR launch vehicle. Development on the Raptor began in 2012, leading to engine testing which began in 2016.

The BFR system is intended to completely replace all of SpaceX's existing space hardware (the Falcon 9 and Falcon Heavy launch vehicles, and the Dragon spacecraft), initially aiming at the Earth-orbit launch market, but explicitly adding substantial capability to support long-duration spaceflight in the cislunar and Mars transport flight environments.[1][3][12]

Contents

HistoryEdit

The development of the BFR, as unveiled in 2017, got started in 2012, when in March, news accounts asserted that a Raptor upper-stage engine had begun development, although no details were released at that time.[13] In October 2012, Musk publicly stated a high-level plan to build a second reusable rocket system with capabilities substantially beyond the Falcon 9/Falcon Heavy launch vehicles on which SpaceX had by then spent several billion US dollars.[14] This new vehicle was to be "an evolution of SpaceX's Falcon 9 booster ... 'much bigger'." But Musk indicated that SpaceX would not be speaking publicly about it until 2013.[15][16]

In June 2013, Musk stated that he intended to hold off any potential initial public offering of SpaceX shares on the stock market until after the "Mars Colonial Transporter is flying regularly."[17][18]

In August 2014, media sources speculated that the initial flight test of the Raptor-driven super-heavy launch vehicle could occur as early as 2020, in order to fully test the engines under orbital spaceflight conditions; however, any colonization effort was reported to be "deep into the future".[19][20]

In early 2015, Musk said that he hoped to release details in late 2015 of the "completely new architecture" for the system that would enable the colonization of Mars. Those plans were delayed,[21][22][23][24][25] following a launch failure in June 2015 until after SpaceX returned to flight in late December 2015.[3]

In September 2016, at the 67th annual meeting of the International Astronautical Congress, Musk unveiled substantial details of a design for a much larger transport vehicle, 12 meters (39 ft) in diameter, the ITS launch vehicle, aimed specifically at the interplanetary transport use case. At the time, the system architecture was referred to as the "Interplanetary Transport System" (ITS)[9][3] and included detailed discussion of the overall SpaceX Mars transportation mission architecture. This included the launch vehicle (the very large size 12-meter core diameter, vehicle construction material, number and type of engines, thrust, cargo and passenger payload capabilities) but also on-orbit propellant-tanker refills, representative transit times, and various portions of the Mars-side and Earth-side infrastructure that SpaceX would require to support a set of three flight vehicles. The three distinct vehicles that made up the 2016 ITS launch vehicle concept were the:[1][26]

  • ITS booster, the first-stage of the launch vehicle
  • ITS spaceship, a second-stage and long-duration in-space spacecraft
  • ITS tanker, an alternative second-stage designed to carry more propellant for refueling other vehicles in space

The talk included presentation of a larger systemic vision, aspirationally hoping that other interested parties (whether companies, individuals, or governments) would utilize the new and significantly lower-cost transport infrastructure that SpaceX hoped to build in order enable a sustainable human civilization on Mars.[3][27][28]

In July 2017, Musk indicated that the architecture had "evolved quite a bit" since the 2016 articulation of the Mars architecture. A key driver of the updated architecture was to be making the system useful for substantial Earth-orbit and cislunar launches so that the system might pay for itself, in part, through economic spaceflight activities in the near-Earth space zone.[29] In September 2018, a less drastic redesign was announced, stretching the second stage slightly and adding radially-steerable forward canards and aft fins, used for pitch control in a new reentry profile resembling a descending skydiver. The aft fins act as landing legs, with a third leg on the top that looks identical but serves no aerodynamic purpose.[2]

UnveilingEdit

In September 2017, at the 68th annual meeting of the International Astronautical Congress, SpaceX unveiled the updated vehicle architecture. Musk said "we are searching for the right name, but the code name, at least, is BFR."[1] The 2017 design is a 9-meter (30 ft) diameter technology, using methalox-fueled Raptor rocket engine technology directed initially at the Earth-orbit and cislunar environment, later, being used for flights to Mars.[30][10]

 
2017 BFR

The 2017 design was cylindrical with a small delta wing at the rear end which included a split flap for pitch and roll control. The delta wing and split flaps were said to be needed to expand the flight envelope to allow the ship to land in a variety of atmospheric densities (no, thin, or heavy atmosphere) with a wide range of payloads (small, heavy, or none) in the nose of the ship.[30][1]:18:05–19:25 Three versions of the ship were described: BFS cargo, BFS tanker, and BFS crew. The cargo version will be used to launch satellites to low Earth orbit—delivering "significantly more satellites at a time than anything that has been done before"[30]—as well as for cargo transport to the Moon and Mars. After retanking in a high-elliptic Earth orbit the spaceship is being designed to be able to land on the Moon and return to Earth without further refueling.[30][1]:31:50

Additionally, the BFR system was shown to theoretically have the capability to carry passengers and/or cargo in rapid Earth-to-Earth transport, delivering its payload anywhere on Earth within 90 minutes.[30]

As of September 2017, Raptor engines had been tested for a combined total of 1200 seconds of test firing time over 42 main engine tests. The longest test was 100 seconds, which is limited by the size of the propellant tanks at the SpaceX ground test facility. The test engine operates at 20 MPa (200 bar; 2,900 psi) pressure. The flight engine is aimed for 25 MPa (250 bar; 3,600 psi), and SpaceX expects to achieve 30 MPa (300 bar; 4,400 psi) in later iterations.[1] In November 2017, SpaceX president and COO Gwynne Shotwell indicated that approximately half of all development work on BFR was then focused on the Raptor engine.[31]

The aspirational goal in 2017 was to send the first two cargo missions to Mars in 2022,[30] with the goal to "confirm water resources and identify hazards" while putting "power, mining, and life support infrastructure" in place for future flights, followed by four ships in 2024, two crewed BFR spaceships plus two cargo-only ships bringing additional equipment and supplies with the goal of setting up the propellant production plant.[1]

In a subsequent announcement held at SpaceX's Hawthorne headquarters in September 2018, Elon Musk showed a redesign of the BFS with added three rear fins and two front canard fins. The revised BFR concept has seven identically-sized Raptor engines in the second stage. The second stage also has two small actuating fins near the nose of the ship, and three large fins at the base, two of which actuate, and all three doubling as landing legs.[32] Additionally, an initial 2023 lunar circumnavigation mission was announced. The spaceship is to be used for a proposed private mission to fly space tourists around the Moon, sponsored by Yusaku Maezawa along with several artists of various disciplines.[33]

SpaceX indicated in November 2018 that they were working on a heavily-modified Falcon 9 second stage that would be used for atmospheric reentry testing of a number of technologies needed for the full-scale spaceship, including an ultra-light heat shield and high-Mach control surfaces. Musk indicated it would be "upgraded to be like a "mini-BFR Ship" but that the stage would not be used for landing tests, as the company already has a good handle on propulsive landings. The first test flight of the test vehicle is planned to be no earlier than mid-2019.[34][35][36] SpaceX subsequently stated in the second half of the month that they were "no longer planning to upgrade Falcon 9 second stage for reusability."[37] The two major parts of the BFR launch vehicle were also given their own descriptive names in November: Starship for the spaceship/upper stage and "Super Heavy" for the booster stage "needed to escape Earth’s deep gravity well (not needed for other planets or moons)."[7]

Construction beginsEdit

By early 2018, the first ship was under construction, and SpaceX had begun construction a new permanent production facility to build the 9-meter vehicles at the Port of Los Angeles. Manufacture of the first ship was underway by March 2018 in a temporary facility at the port,[5] with first suborbital test flights planned for no earlier than 2019.[5][38] The company continued to state publicly its aspirational goal for initial Mars-bound cargo flights of BFR launching as early as 2022, followed by the first crewed flight to Mars one synodic period later, in 2024,[5][10] consistent with the no-earlier-than dates mentioned in late-2017.

Back in 2015, SpaceX had been scouting for manufacturing facility locations to build the large rocket, with locations being investigated in California, Texas, Louisiana,[39] and Florida.[40] By September 2017, SpaceX had already started building launch vehicle components. "The tooling for the main tanks has been ordered, the facility is being built, we will start construction of the first ship [in the second quarter of 2018.]"[1]

In March 2018, SpaceX publicly announced that it would manufacture its next-generation, 9-meter-diameter (30 ft) launch vehicle and spaceship at a new facility the company is constructing in 2018–2019 on Seaside Drive at the Port of Los Angeles. The company had leased an 18-acre site for 10 years, with multiple renewals possible, and will use the site for manufacturing, recovery from shipborne landings, and refurbishment of both the booster and the spaceship.[41][42][43] Final regulatory approval of the new manufacturing facility came from the Board of Harbor Commissioners in April 2018,[39] and the Los Angeles City Council in May.[44] By that time, approximately 40 SpaceX employees were working on the design and construction of BFR.[39] Over time, the project is expected to have 700 technical jobs.[40] The permanent facility is expected to be a 203,500-square-foot (18,910 m2) prefabricated[citation needed] building that would be 105 feet (32 m) tall.[45]

The fully assembled launch vehicle is expected to be "transported by barge, through the Panama Canal, to Cape Canaveral in Florida for launch."[39]

Nine months after starting construction of some parts of the first test article carbon composite Starship low-altitude test vehicle, SpaceX CEO Musk announced that the "counterintuitive new design approach" he had been mentioning for a month was that the primary construction material for the rocket's structure and propellant tanks would be metal;[46] "Fairly heavy metal, but extremely strong."[47][48]

TestingEdit

Testing began, as it does with most launch vehicles, with rocket engine tests. Raptor engine component-level testing began in May 2014[49] with the first full-engine test in September 2016.[50] By September 2017, the development Raptor engine had undergone 1200 seconds of hotfire testing in ground-test stands across 42 main engine tests, with the longest test at that time being 100 seconds.[1]

Flight tests at the launch vehicle subsystem level of the Big Falcon Rocket is expected to begin with short suborbital hops of the full-scale Starship, likely to be just a few hundred kilometers altitude and lateral distance,[51] with initial test flights, as of March 2018, possible as early as 2019.[5] Hops of the upper stage spaceship will be conducted from the SpaceX South Texas Launch Site that is currently under construction near Brownsville, Texas.[2]

In November 2018, SpaceX also announced work on a heavily-modified Falcon 9 second stage that would be used for atmospheric reentry testing of a number of technologies needed for the full-scale spaceship, including an ultra-light heat shield and high-Mach control surfaces. Musk indicated it would be "upgraded to be like a mini-BFR Ship" but that the stage would not be used for landing tests, as the company already believes it has a good handle on propulsive landings. The first test flight of the modified stage is planned to be no earlier than mid-2019.[34][35][36]

NomenclatureEdit

At least as early as 2005, SpaceX had used the descriptor "BFR" for its planned large Mars rocket.[52] Beginning in mid-2013, SpaceX referred to both the architecture and the vehicle as the Mars Colonial Transporter.[53] By the time the large 12-meter diameter design was unveiled in September 2016, SpaceX had already begun referring to the overall system as the Interplanetary Transport System and the launch vehicle itself as the ITS launch vehicle.

With the announcement of a new 9-meter design in September 2017, SpaceX resumed using the name "BFR".[10][11][54] Musk said in the announcement "we are searching for the right name, but the code name, at least, is BFR."[1] SpaceX President Gwynne Shotwell subsequently stated that BFR stands for "Big Falcon Rocket".[55] However, Elon Musk has explained in the past that although BFR is the official name, he drew inspiration from the BFG weapon in the Doom video games.[56] The BFR has also occasionally been referred to informally by the media and internally at SpaceX as "Big Fucking Rocket".[57][58][59] The upper stage is also the spaceship, or for a time in 2017–18 was referred to as "BFS".[60][61][62] In November 2018, the spaceship was renamed Starship, and the first stage booster was named Super Heavy.[7][63]

Notably, in the fashion of SpaceX, even that term super heavy had been previously used by SpaceX in a different context. In February 2018, at about the time of the first Falcon Heavy launch, Musk "suggested the possibility of a Falcon Super Heavy—a Falcon Heavy with extra boosters. 'We could really dial it up to as much performance as anyone could ever want. If we wanted to we could actually add two more side boosters and make it Falcon Super Heavy.'"[64]

DescriptionEdit

The SpaceX next-generation launch vehicle design combines several elements that, according to Musk, will make long-duration, beyond Earth orbit (BEO) spaceflights possible. The design is projected by SpaceX to reduce the per-ton cost of launches to low Earth orbit (LEO) and of transportation between BEO destinations. It will also serve all use cases for the conventional LEO market. This will allow SpaceX to focus the majority of their development resources on the next-generation launch vehicle.[1][12][65][30]

The fully reusable super-heavy-lift Big Falcon Rocket (BFR) will consist of two main parts: a reusable booster stage, named Super Heavy and a reusable second stage with an integrated payload section, named Starship.[7][1]

Combining the second-stage of a launch vehicle with a long-duration spaceship will be a unique type of space mission architecture. This architecture is dependent on the success of orbital refueling.[30]

Major characteristics of the launch vehicle include:[3][30][66][61][2]

First stage: Super HeavyEdit

The first stage, or booster—also referred to as Super Heavy[63]—of the SpaceX next-generation launch vehicle is 63 meters (207 ft) long and 9 m (30 ft) in diameter. It is expected to have a gross liftoff mass of 3,065,000 kg (6,757,000 lb)[2] It is constructed of carbon composite tanks and structure, holding subcooled liquid methane and liquid oxygen (CH
4
/LOX) propellants, powered by 31 Raptor rocket engines[8] providing 61.8 MN (13,900,000 lbf) total liftoff thrust.[2] The booster is projected to return to land on the launch mount.[3][30][66][61]

Second stage and spaceship: StarshipEdit

Starship[63][7] is a reusable launch vehicle second stage with an integrated payload section.[30] It will be built in at least three versions:[30]

Some major characteristics of Starship include:[3][30][66][61]

  • The ability to return to near the launch mount using retropropulsive landing and the reusable launch vehicle technologies developed earlier by SpaceX.
  • The landing reliability is projected by SpaceX to achieve "airline levels" of safety due to engine-out capability.
  • Rendezvous and docking will be automated.
  • There will be on-orbit propellant transfers from Starship tankers to Starship spaceships.
  • A Starship and its payload will be able to transit to the Moon or fly to Mars after on-orbit propellant loading.
  • Heat-shields will be reusable.
  • As envisioned in the 2017 design unveiling, the Starship is to have a pressurized volume of 1,000 m3 (35,000 cu ft), which could be configured for up to 40 cabins, large common areas, central storage, a galley, and a solar storm shelter for Mars missions plus 12 unpressurized aft cargo containers of 88 m3 (3,100 cu ft) total.[61]

When Starship is used for BEO launches to Mars, the functioning of the system will include propellant production on the Mars surface. This is necessary for the return trip and to reuse the spaceship at a minimal cost. Lunar destinations (some flybys, orbits and landings) will be possible without lunar-propellant depots, so long as the spaceship is refueled in a high-elliptical orbit before the lunar transit begins.[30] Some lunar flybys will be possible without orbital refueling as evidenced by the mission profile of the SpaceX lunar tourism mission.[68]

Launch vehicle specifications and performanceEdit

Specifications[1][66]
Component

Attribute
Overall launch vehicle
(booster + ship)
Super Heavy (booster) Starship (spaceship/tanker/
sat-delivery vehicle)
LEO payload 100,000+ kg (220,000+ lb)[4]
Return payload 50,000 kg (110,000 lb)[61][needs update?]
Cargo volume 1,088+ m3 (38,400+ cu ft)[4] N/A 1,000+ m3 (35,000+ cu ft)[4]
(pressurized)
88 m3 (3,100 cu ft)[4]
(unpressurized)
Diameter 9 m (30 ft)[61]
Length 118 m (387 ft)[4] 63 m (207 ft)[4][needs update?] 55 m (180 ft)[4]
Maximum mass 4,400,000 kg (9,700,000 lb)[61][needs update?] 1,335,000 kg (2,943,000 lb)
[needs update?]
Propellant capacity CH
4
– 240,000 kg (530,000 lb)[needs update?]
O
2
– 860,000 kg (1,900,000 lb)[needs update?]
Empty mass 85,000 kg (187,000 lb)[61][needs update?]
Engines 31 × Sea level Raptors 7 × Sea level Raptors
Thrust 52.7 MN (11,800,000 lbf) 11.9 MN (2,700,000 lbf) total

The Raptor engine design chamber pressure is 25 MPa (250 bar; 3,600 psi), although SpaceX plans to increase that to 30 MPa (300 bar; 4,400 psi) in later iterations of the engine. The engine will be designed with an extreme focus on reliability for any single engine[66] and "seven engines means it's definitely capable of [mitigating] engine out at any time, including two engine out, in almost all circumstances. So you could lose two engines and still be totally safe. In fact, [in] some cases you can lose up to four engines and still be totally fine. So it only needs three engines for landing; three out of seven."[69] In this way, the ship is being designed to achieve "landing reliability that is on par with the safest commercial airliners."[30]

ApplicationsEdit

The Big Falcon Rocket launch vehicle is designed to replace all existing SpaceX vehicles and spacecraft: Falcon 9 and Falcon Heavy launch vehicles, and also the Dragon capsule. SpaceX estimates that BFR launches will be cheaper than the existing fleet, and even cheaper than the retired Falcon 1, due to full reusability and precision landing of the booster on its launch mount for simplified launch logistics. SpaceX intends to fully replace its vehicle fleet with BFRs during the early 2020s.[70][30][1]:24:50–27:05

BFR is planned to execute five diverse flight use cases:[70][3]

Musk and Shotwell have mentioned the theoretical ability of BFR to carry passengers on suborbital flights between any two points on Earth in under one hour, but have not announced any concrete plans to pursue that use case.[1][51][73]

Lunar flyby tourEdit

 
Artistic rendition of the BFS firing all 7 of its engines while passing by the Moon

In September 2018, SpaceX announced that it signed a contract to fly a group of private passengers around the Moon aboard the BFS.[32] This lunar flyby will be crewed by Yusaku Maezawa,[74] who will invite 6 to 8 artists to travel with him around the Moon in 2023.[75] The expected travel time would be about 6 days.[74][75]

Mars propellant plant and baseEdit

Musk plans to build a crewed base on Mars for an extended surface presence, which he hopes will grow into a self-sufficient colony.[76][77] A successful colonization would ultimately involve many more economic actors—whether individuals, companies, or governments—to facilitate the growth of the human presence on Mars over many decades.[78][79][80]

Since the spaceships (Starships) are also reusable, Musk plans on refueling them in low Earth orbit first, and then again on the surface of Mars for their return to Earth. During the first phase, he plans to launch several BFRs to transport and assemble a propellant plant and start to build up a base.[81] The propellant plant would produce methane (CH
4
) and liquid oxygen (O2) from sub-surface water ice and atmospheric CO
2
.[30]

Two robotic cargo flights, the first of which may be named Heart of Gold,[82] are planned to be launched in 2022 to deliver a massive array of solar panels,[77] mining equipment,[81] as well as deliver surface vehicles, food and life support infrastructure.[83] In 2024 four more Starships will follow: two robotic cargo flights, and two crewed flights will be launched to setup the propellant production plant, deploy the solar park, landing pads, and assemble greenhouses.[83] Each landed mass will be at least 100 tons of usable payload, in addition to the spaceship's dry mass of 85 tons.[83]

The first temporary habitats will be their own crewed Starships, as they have life-support systems.[76][83] However, the robotic Starship cargo flights will be refueled for their return trip to Earth whenever possible.[76] For a sustainable base, it is proposed that the landing zone be located at less than 40° latitude for best solar power production, relatively warm temperature, and critically: it must be near a massive sub-surface water ice deposit.[83] The quantity and purity of the water ice must be appropriate. A preliminary study by SpaceX estimates the propellant plant is required to mine water ice and filter its impurities at a rate of 1 ton per day.[83] The system under study is projected to produce 1 kg/day of O2/CH4 propellant while consuming 700 watts of electrical power. Overall unit conversion rate expected is one metric ton of propellant per 17 megawatt-hours energy input from solar power.[84]

The biggest lingering questions about SpaceX's Mars habitation plans have to do with health hazards of prolonged space travel, radiation, weightlessness, and habitation in the low gravity of Mars, which is 38% of the gravity of Earth.[85][86][87]

See alsoEdit

ReferencesEdit

  1. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r Elon Musk (29 September 2017). Becoming a Multiplanet Species (video). 68th annual meeting of the International Astronautical Congress in Adelaide, Australia: SpaceX. Retrieved 14 December 2017 – via YouTube.
  2. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q Musk, Elon (September 17, 2018). First Private Passenger on Lunar BFR Mission. SpaceX. Retrieved September 18, 2018 – via Youtube.
  3. ^ a b c d e f g h i j Gaynor, Phillip (9 August 2018). "The Evolution of the Big Falcon Rocket". NASASpaceFlight.com. Retrieved 17 August 2018.
  4. ^ a b c d e f g h i "Mars". 2016-09-20.
  5. ^ a b c d e Foust, Jeff (12 March 2018). "Musk reiterates plans for testing BFR". SpaceNews. Retrieved 15 March 2018. Construction of the first prototype spaceship is in progress. 'We’re actually building that ship right now,' he said. 'I think we’ll probably be able to do short flights, short sort of up-and-down flights, probably sometime in the first half of next year.'
  6. ^ a b "The first SpaceX BFR should make orbital launches by 2020". 2018-03-19. Retrieved 2018-10-14.
  7. ^ a b c d e f Boyle, Alan (19 November 2018). "Goodbye, BFR … hello, Starship: Elon Musk gives a classic name to his Mars spaceship". GeekWire. Retrieved 22 November 2018. Starship is the spaceship/upper stage & Super Heavy is the rocket booster needed to escape Earth’s deep gravity well (not needed for other planets or moons)
  8. ^ a b SpaceX Aims to Begin BFR Spaceship Flight Tests as Soon as Next Year. Jay Bennett, Popular Mechanics. 7 February 2018.
  9. ^ a b Eric Berger (18 September 2016). "Elon Musk scales up his ambitions, considering going "well beyond" Mars". Ars Technica. Retrieved 19 September 2016.
  10. ^ a b c d Jeff Foust (29 September 2017). "Musk unveils revised version of giant interplanetary launch system". SpaceNews. Retrieved 1 October 2017.
  11. ^ a b William Harwood (29 September 2017). "Elon Musk revises Mars plan, hopes for boots on ground in 2024". SpaceflightNow. Retrieved 30 September 2017. The new rocket is still known as the BFR, a euphemism for 'Big (fill-in-the-blank) Rocket.' The reusable BFR will use 31 Raptor engines burning densified, or super-cooled, liquid methane and liquid oxygen to lift 150 tons, or 300,000 pounds, to low Earth orbit, roughly equivalent to NASA’s Saturn 5 moon rocket.
  12. ^ a b Steve Dent (29 September 2017). "Elon Musk's Mars dream hinges on a giant new rocket". Engadget. Retrieved 9 December 2017.
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  14. ^ Zach Rosenberg (15 October 2012). "SpaceX aims big with massive new rocket". Flight Global. Retrieved 28 October 2015.
  15. ^ "Huge Mars Colony Eyed by SpaceX Founder". Discovery News. 13 December 2012. Archived from the original on 15 November 2014. Retrieved 14 March 2014.
  16. ^ Rod Coppinger (23 November 2012). "Huge Mars Colony Eyed by SpaceX Founder Elon Musk". Space.com. Retrieved 10 June 2013. The fully reusable rocket that Musk wants to take colonists to Mars is an evolution of SpaceX's Falcon 9 booster.... 'It's going to be much bigger [than Falcon 9], but I don’t think we’re quite ready to state the payload. We’ll speak about that next year,' Musk said. ... 'Vertical landing is an extremely important breakthrough — extreme, rapid reusability.'
  17. ^ Steve Schaefer (6 June 2013). "SpaceX IPO Cleared For Launch? Elon Musk Says Hold Your Horses". Forbes. Retrieved 10 June 2013.
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  19. ^ Alan Boyle (5 January 2015). "Coming Soon From SpaceX's Elon Musk: How to Move to Mars". NBC News. Retrieved 8 January 2015. The Mars transport system will be a completely new architecture. Am hoping to present that towards the end of this year. Good thing we didn't do it sooner, as we have learned a huge amount from Falcon and Dragon.
  20. ^ Chris Bergin (29 August 2014). "Battle of the Heavyweight Rockets -- SLS could face Exploration Class rival". NASAspaceflight.com. Retrieved 30 August 2014.
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  22. ^ 2016 StartmeupHK Venture Forum - Elon Musk on Entrepreneurship and Innovation. StartmeupHK Venture Forum--2016 (video). Invest Hong Kong. 26 January 2016. Event occurs at 30:15-31:40. Retrieved 26 January 2016 – via YouTube. We'll have the next generation rocket and spacecraft, beyond the Falcon and Dragon series... I'm hoping to describe that architecture later this year at the International Astronautical Congress. which is the big international space event every year. ... first flights to Mars? we're hoping to do that in around 2025 ... nine years from now or thereabouts.
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