During his career, Elon Musk has formed around the reputation of a person, not afraid to make very bold statements and promises. In 2002, motivated by a desire to make space travel more affordable through the use of reusable rockets, he founded SpaceX. In April 2014 the whole world with a sinking heart looked at, is the first successful landing of spent stages of the rocket Falcon 9. In February of this year, the people who sincerely believe in technological progress, the envy of all ill-wishers watched the launch of the heaviest rocket in the world, the Falcon Heavy, and then simultaneous landing of two exhaust accelerators.
Yes, the Mask is not always everything is going smoothly. But he is not shy to hide it, when it publishes videos, in which shows how not to put missiles. During the work at SpaceX, the dream of reusable rockets was replaced by an even more ambitious goal of a manned flight to Mars in the future base on the red planet’s first interplanetary human colony. Realizing that using the Falcon Heavy this dream would be impossible to implement, SpaceX has been designing even larger rockets Big Falcon Rocket (BFR).
The question of when the missile is ready to launch, was one of the topics of discussion at the annual SXSW festival, recently held in Austin (Texas, USA), where Musk has revealed some details of future plans of his company with the audience and leading Jonathan Nolan (Director and screenwriter, as well as the younger brother of more famous Director Christopher Nolan).
During this interview, Musk again reiterated his earlier statements that the first test flight BFR scheduled for 2019 and full test run BFR and spacecraft Big Falcon Spaceship (BFS) is to take place in 2020. And though these projections seem very optimistic (Musk is famous for such “sins”, what he is not, however, hesitate to admit), the past success of the company in the reusable launch and “Stakhanov rates” development of necessary technologies give the opportunity to believe. At least a little bit.
“I am often told that I’m too optimistic with regards to the time of realization. Therefore it is necessary to make this amendment. What can I say? At the moment we are building the first ship, the first interplanetary ship that will fly to Mars in the future will be used for interplanetary flights. I think the first short flights – takeoffs and landings — this ship happens in the first half of next year,” Musk said in an interview.
What is booster BFR? Booster BFR, formerly known as the Interplanetary Transport System, will be a two-stage system of the upper stage and second stage/spacecraft BFS. After the launch of the carrier rocket and the withdrawal of the ship into a low orbit first step would be to return to Earth and make a soft landing. It gets better. To the dead the first step you will be installing a new second stage in the form of tanker with fuel. After launching the tanker will detach from the BFR and installed on the orbiting BFS, fill it and then come back to Earth with the first step. After that the spacecraft tucked in, with supplies and a team on Board, start your engines and continue the journey to Mars.
Despite the fact that, individually, many of the technologies and concepts were developed and tested in the course of development, modernization, and through launches of the Falcon 9 and Falcon Heavy booster BFR will be a starting system that is not similar to anything that was running under the flag of SpaceX before.
According to the plans of booster BFR will be significantly larger (here, by the way, her the unofficial title of “Biggest fuckin ‘rocket”) and Falcon 9 Heavy will have much greater traction and carrying capacity. Technical characteristics of the new booster Musk said during the presentation at the 68th meeting of the International Astronautical Congress, held in late September of last year in Australia. Then the head of SpaceX told that the height of the missile will be 106 meters, with a diameter of 9 meters. She will carry 110 tons of fuel and can withdraw into a low orbit of up to 150 tons of payload, which is almost twice the capabilities of the Falcon Heavy. The return payload will be 50 tons.
“This is a very large accelerator and spaceship. The thrust during takeoff is almost two and a half times more than at the start of “Saturn-5″ (booster used in the Apollo program to deliver astronauts to the moon). It can orbit up to 150 tons of payload and be fully reusable,” said the Mask.
Even with the fabulousness of the foregoing statements, the most important difficulty that will stand in the way of project implementation are related not to technology. The main complexity will be associated with the cost of the project and its safety, especially when you consider that this is only the second project in history, which proposes the use of a spacecraft with a reusable. First, we recall, was the space Shuttle, of course, if you don’t count the one and only flight of the Soviet “Buran”, which is its practically full copy.
Speaking of price, the space Shuttle programme is again an excellent example of what the Mask and his company will have to face in the coming years. A survey conducted in 2010 (shortly before the closing of the program) calculations, the Space Shuttle program cost the U.S. government approximately USD 210 billion. A large part of this amount was disbursed for maintenance of the spacecraft between launches, and fuel. These types of costs, all the forces of the company SpaceX wants to (and sure will) be reduced to a minimum, because only in this case, the BFR might be an economically profitable venture.
Answering the question about the costs of Mask again noted the importance of technology mnogorazovogo:
“The beauty of this ship, provided that we will be able to reach it’s full of mnogorazovogo will be that we will significantly reduce in this case, the marginal cost of launch. It will be significantly lower than it is now. Reusability is the fundamental part in the rocket. A breakthrough is needed in this area”.
Economic principle BFR will be to lower launch costs of a fully reusable spacecraft for long-distance flights, compared to launch disposable rockets for the meek of travel, which will be more expensive.
As an example, Musk cited the cost of renting a fully loaded Boeing 747 to fly from California to Australia, which will be half a million dollars, and the purchase of a new turboprop aircraft for $ 1.5 million, which is up to Australia don’t even reach, because the small and not so powerful as much bigger Boeing. The same rule, according to the Mask, will operate for missiles.
“The cost of running BFR will actually be even lower than the cost of Falcon launch 1. Marginal cost then was about $ 5-6 million for one start. We are confident that the launch of BFR will be cheaper. This is very important because the only way we will be able to create bases on the moon and Mars. This will be sort of the equivalent of transnational Railways or ships to quickly cross oceans”.
Along with the issue of the cost of production and maintenance, will have to work on how to make the booster BFR completely safe. Without this SpaceX with it so far. In this respect, companies can use the scheme that she used when developing the Falcon 9. Before carrying out full testing and safety inspections of delivery of a spacecraft Dragon into orbit, SpaceX conducted a number of short launches and landings of his “blanks” Grasshopper.
The artistic representation of the carrier rocket Space Launch System (SLS) and a multipurpose spacecraft Orion
According to the Mask during an interview at SXSW, the company plans to hold the first suborbital launch of the rocket BFR in 2019. The first orbital launch of the rocket with the spacecraft can be held in 2020. And it seems that the earlier statements Mask on the first commercial launch BFR in 2022, and a manned flight in 2024 also remain in force.
For comparison, the same run of the carrier rocket Space Launch System (SLS), which NASA space Agency in the future wants to get to Mars, is also scheduled for 2019. At the moment it is known that in the first mission, Exploration Mission 1 (EM-1) planned to send unmanned spacecraft Orion around the moon. Within the mission, EM-2, which should be held in 2022 and will be manned, to be delivered the first module of a lunar orbital station Gateway of the satellite into orbit. After that it is planned to conduct several similar missions for the delivery of additional modules and ultimately of the spacecraft Deep Space Transport (DTS), which will become the means by which astronauts will fly to Mars. The first interplanetary mission of the NASA Exploration Mission 11 (EM-11), will not happen before the year 2033. In other words, if voiced Musk forecasts are correct, then SpaceX will be able to overtake NASA in terms of carrying out offline, and in terms of manned flights to Mars.
With regards to the question about who it decides to build and maintain permanent bases on the moon and Mars, there is still more vague. During the interview, Musk also stressed that the example of BFR he and his company SpaceX want to show other space agencies and organizations that the creation of the interplanetary spacecraft is indeed possible, and thereby to inspire them to similar efforts.