Multi-Purpose Reusable Rocket

The SpaceX BFR launch system is a super-heavy lift class of rocket intended to replace the existing SpaceX launch vehicles and spacecraft. The system is being built to facilitate the development of a commercial spaceship which can perform low Earth orbit (LEO) services and eventually be used for the colonization of Mars to ensure humans become a multi-planetary species in the 2020’s.

Space Faring Species

The CEO and founder of SpaceX, Elon Musk, always intended for SpaceX to help make humans a space fairing species by bringing down the cost of spaceflight through usability and developing the hardware to establish a Mars colony in the 2020s. Musk has always argued that to ensure humans survive indefinitely we need to have at least a “back up planet” in case something happened to Earth – like a near-Earth asteroid strike.

SpaceX’s initial space launch system idea, the ITS, was superseded in 2017 by the Big Falcon Rocket (BFR) design which would eventually replace SpaceX’s current launch vehicles and spacecraft; the Falcon 9, Falcon Heavy and Dragon/Crew Dragon.

To pay for its development, it is intended that the BFR Booster and spacecraft variants will be able to perform SpaceX’s current LEO services (in addition to a new point-to-point spaceliner service) while also serving as an interplanetary cargo and crew transfer system to establish a self sustaining colony on Mars.

Top 10 Facts About SpaceX’s BFR!

  1. Three variants of the BFR are planned – a BFR spaceship, BFR tanker, and the BFR satellite delivery spacecraft to service LEO customers.
  2. The BFR Booster and Spaceship will be 106 m (348 ft) tall and 9 m (30 ft) in diameter.
  3. The completely reusable system will be able to put a 150 ton payload into LEO.
  4. The maximum weight at lift-off will be 4,400 tonnes (9,700,000 lbs).
  5. The BFR first stage, with its 31 Raptor engines, will provide 11.8 million lbf (52.7 mN) of thrust – greater than any previous rocket, even the Soviet N1!
  6. The 48 m (157 ft) long BFR Spacecraft will utilize 3 sea-level Raptor engines and 4 Raptor engines optimizes for operating in a vacuum.
  7. In-orbit propellant transfer will be possible between the BFR Tanker variant to the BFR Spaceship.
  8. The BFR Spaceship contains approximately 825m3 of pressurized volume which is about the same as an Airbus A380 aircraft!
  9. The reusable heat shield and delta wing on the BFR Spaceship allows it to land on planetary bodies with and without atmospheres – such as the Moon and Mars!
  10. The Mars-Earth orbits fall in sync every two years allowing optimal launch dates every 2 years. SpaceX aims to launch the BFR on a Mars cargo mission in 2022 with crew to follow during the 2024 launch window. It’s quite possible these may slip by 2 years.

How exciting that a private spaceflight company might put cargo and humans on Mars before NASA’s Orion spacecraft can!

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SpaceX BFR - The large SpaceX rocket will be powered by 31 Raptor first stage rockets and will the be the largest rocket ever flown. (Image Credit: SpaceX)