Elon Musk, the man who founded SpaceX back in 2002 just unveiled his updated plans for interplanetary travel. Musk opened with a very Elon like quote.
'The Future is vastly more exciting and interesting if we're a space fairing civilization and a multi-planetary species than if we are not'
One of the greatest criticisms SpaceX got last year at IAC 2016 was the feasibility of the plan. Elon Musk wasted no time and stated that they have figured out how to pay for the BFR (codename for the interplanetary transport system). They will make all their current vehicles redundant. That means no more Falcon 9, Falcon Heavy or Dragon capsule. The BFR will be used to launch satellites and crew, service the space station, fly to Mars and the Moon and more. There will be one booster and one ship and it will be known as BFR.
'It's about believing that the future will be better than the past'
I'm sure you have seen the mesmerizing videos of the Falcon landing, right? If not then you have to check it out. Musk says the have nailed landing and won't even need landing legs for the next generation of SpaceX rockets. 'Why?' you ask. Well, the rocket landing will be so precise that it will just land back on its launch mounts. That is mind-blowing if you ask me.
If one of BFR's engines is not functional it will still be capable of landing using just a single engine.
SpaceX expects its launch rate to increase to 30 launches next year, a fifty percent increase over this year's expected launch rate.
A Quick Look at BFR
Dry Mass: 85 tons
Propellant Mass: 1,100 tons
Max Ascent Payload: 150 tons
Max Return Payload: 50 tons
BFR will have a pressurized living space of 825 cubic meters, that's bigger than an Airbus A380. BFR will house 40 cabins with between two and three people each, central storage, a galley, solar storm shelter and plenty of common areas. The BFR will be powered by 4 gimbaled Raptor Vacuum engines and 2 gimbaled sea level engines running of 240 tons of Methane and 860 tons of liquid oxygen. BFR will be capable of going to the Moon and back on a single refuel in Earth orbit, that means you don't need to produce fuel on the Moon. However, when going to Mars you will have to refuel after landing if you plan on getting home. Mars' atmosphere is mostly carbon dioxide. Mars also has ice, that means you can make methane and liquid oxygen to refuel your ship. It's important to note that you don't need a booster to go from Mars to Earth, the ship's engines are sufficient enough.
So what's the deal, when are we going to Mars?
Elon Musk said they plan on sending 2 cargo missions to set up power production, mining and life support for the crew in 2022. During the next launch window, that's 2024, 2 more cargo missions and 2 crewed missions will launch with more equipment, supplies and propellant production hardware.
Musk finished his deep space presentation with an intriguing fact. The sky of Mars is red during the day and blue during dawn and dusk. That is the complete opposite of Earth's sky, and one more way to check what planet you are on if you're not sure.