SpaceX will launch its Mars spaceship into orbit as early as 2020

Discussion in 'SpaceX' started by Eric Ralph, Mar 12, 2018.

  1. Eric Ralph

    Eric Ralph Member

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    [​IMG]

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    First spaceship prototype already under construction

    Speaking on a launch industry round-table at the Satellite 2018 conference, SpaceX President and COO Gwynne Shotwell revealed that the company intends to conduct the first orbital launches of BFR as early as 2020, with suborbital spaceship tests beginning in the first half of 2019.

    Only six months after CEO Elon Musk first debuted the Interplanetary Transport System in Adelaide, Australia, a flood of recent comments from both executives have made it overwhelmingly clear that SpaceX intends to have its first spaceship ready for short suborbital test flights at the beginning of 2019. Considering Musk’s unprovoked acknowledgment at SXSW 2018 of his tendency towards overly optimistic timelines, the repeated affirmations of BFS test flights beginning in 2019 and now an orbital launch of the full BFR booster and ship in 2020 hold a fair deal more water than they did in 2017.

    [​IMG]SpaceX’s subscale Raptor engine conducting a 40-second test in Texas. This engine will power both BFR and BFS. (SpaceX)

    Breaking it down

    These past few weeks have been filled with a number of similar statements from SpaceX executives like Shotwell, Musk, and others; all focused in part on the company’s next-generation launch vehicle, BFR (Big __ Rocket). Composed of a single massive booster and an equally massive second stage/spaceship (BFS), the rocket is meant to enable the affordable expansion of permanent human outposts on Mars and throughout the inner solar system by making good on the decades-old promise of fully reusable launch vehicles.

    [​IMG]The relatively cylindrical BFS reduces complexity and lowers weight. (SpaceX)[​IMG]BFS’ delta “wings” from the rear of the ship. Also shown are the Raptors, with the two in the center now reportedly expanded to three engines. (SpaceX)[​IMG]SpaceX’s BFS pictured supporting a potential lunar base. (SpaceX)

    To an extent, SpaceX has already matured the principles and technologies needed to reliably recover and reuse the booster stage of two-stage rockets, demonstrated by their incredible success with Falcon 9.

    BFR is a whole different animal, partly owing to its massive size, huge thrust, and new propellant and tankage systems, but those problems are more technical than conceptual. SpaceX already knows how to reuse boosters, and that will apply to BFR once its several technological hurdles have been overcome. Designing and building the orbital spaceship (BFS), however, will undoubtedly be the most difficult task SpaceX has yet to take on. The safety and cost records of the only other orbital-class reusable second stage in existence, the Space Shuttle, are at least partially indicative of the difficulty of the challenges ahead of SpaceX.

    In order to succeed, the company will need to solve the problems that NASA and its Shuttle contractors never could - they will need to build an orbital, crewed spaceship that can be reused with minimal refurbishment, can launch for little more than the cost of its propellant, and does so with safety and reliability comparable to the records of modern commercial airliners - perhaps the safest form of transport humans have ever created.

    [​IMG]Space Shuttle Atlantis docked with the beginnings of the International Space Station. The Shuttle suffered several deadly failures and cost more than the expendable Saturn V moon rocket it replaced. (NASA)

    Rockets do not easily lend themselves to such incredible standards of safety or reliability - airliners average a single death per 16 million flights - but SpaceX will need to reach similar levels of reusability and reliability if they hope to enable even moderately affordable spaceflight or Earth-to-Earth transport by rocket. Still, there can be little doubt that SpaceX employs some of the absolute best engineering expertise to have ever existed in the US, and their extraordinary personal investment in the company’s goal of making humanity multi-planetary bode about as well as could be asked for such an ambitious endeavor. According to Musk and Shotwell, the first spaceship is already being built and suborbital tests will begin as soon as 2019, while full-up orbital launches - presumably involving both the booster and spaceship - 973296165037969408[/MEDIA]]might occur just a single year later in 2020.





    It appears that we will find out sooner, rather than later, if SpaceX has truly found a way to lower the cost to orbit by several orders of magnitudes. Follow us for live updates, behind-the-scenes sneak peeks, and a sea of beautiful photos from our East and West coast photographers.

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    Article: SpaceX will launch its Mars spaceship into orbit as early as 2020
     
  2. txmjp1966

    txmjp1966 New Member

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    The photo above is a photo of the Russian Mir Space Station. You might want to change the caption :)
     
  3. andresen_are

    andresen_are New Member

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    May be a stupid question but why does the BFS have to enter earth's atmosphere again? Can't they just launch it first with BFR and leave it in space for multiple missions/trips? Then resupply people, fuel and goods separately on BFR or smaller rockets?
     
  4. jeremyeharris

    jeremyeharris New Member

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    Because that would kinda defeat the object of the exercise. You would have to build a new upper stage for every launch. Sure the first few dozen you might use to create a moon or mars 'shuttle' system, but what are you going to do with the hundreds of upper stages after that? Musk's vision is of a similar service to airliners, but with rockets. Remember the plan he announced in Adelaide to use BFR/BFS as an intercontinental passenger shuttle service?
    Not making it fully reusable would be akin to throwing away the cockpit and one engine off every conventional airliner after each flight.
     
  5. dannlasley8066

    dannlasley8066 New Member

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    It would be real interesting if SpaceX had two operational manned orbital craft, the Dragon 2 and BFS before Blu Origin even begins suborbital manned flights. Certainly before they launch New Glenn. Once BFR starts flying, everything else in existence or even on the drawing board will be obsolete. If the BFS is orbiting by 2020, then we could be back on the Moon by 2022, with a good chance of beating the Chinese, and be on Mars by the mid 2020s. More importantly, we could be building commercial and industrial facilities throughout cis-Lunar space that no one by science fiction writers have even dreamed of. The next decade is going to be fantastically exciting.
     
  6. sittercat

    sittercat New Member

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    For the last time folks, BFR stands for Big Falcon Rocket
     
  7. iolafree272

    iolafree272 New Member

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    I am looking forward to the BFR, but I think blue Origin\'s New Glenn Rocket will be operational sooner. That BE-4 methane engine that Blue Origin is developing, is much further along in testing than SpaceX\'s Raptor engine. I see Bezos conquering the Moon before SpaceX.
     
  8. Curtis Quick

    Curtis Quick New Member

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    Well, the more the merrier! If we are really going to conquer space, it's going to take a lot more than any one company's resources to do it.

    But do keep in mind, SpaceX has been launching rockets and payloads to orbit for ten years. BO has yet to launch anything to orbit. I don't mean to suggest that they won't, but it is likely to take some time learning to crawl before they can walk, much less run. Also, while the New Glenn is an orbital class rocket, it is not expected to travel to the Moon. That is the mission of the New Armstrong, which is likely a few years further out than New Glenn.

    What is more interesting is that the BFR could fly before even the first launch of the SLS in the early 2020s, and certainly before the second SLS in the late 2020s. When SLS finally launches it is quite possible that no one will notice.
     
  9. Gerald R Everett

    Gerald R Everett New Member

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    At least to begin with, BFS can launch un-crewed. Fly crew up in a separate F9/D2 until reliability has been established. D2 should do a fly around of BFS to detect missing tiles. etc.
     
  10. Gerald R Everett

    Gerald R Everett New Member

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    At least to begin with launch the BFS un-crewed. Launch the crew separately with an F9/D2. Do a fly around to see if tiles intact etc. Once reliability has been established you can launch BFS with crew on board.
     

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