A tweet posted by SpaceX founder and CEO Elon Musk yesterday has once again been making news headlines, although this time it was of a less extravagant nature than usual. After the latest version of his Falcon 9 rocket took off from Florida's Cape Canaveral carrying Bangladesh's first communications satellite into orbit, Musk tweeted that SpaceX is set to take on about 300 similar missions in the next 5 years.
BFR takes over
The visionary CEO said the company will probably build 30 to 40 rocket cores for the upcoming missions before “the Big Falcon Rocket (BFR) takes over & Falcon retires.” The BFR is a design revealed in September of 2017 for a privately funded next-generation reusable launch vehicle and spacecraft.
SpaceX will prob build 30 to 40 rocket cores for ~300 missions over 5 years. Then BFR takes over & Falcon retires. Goal of BFR is to enable anyone to move to moon, Mars & eventually outer planets.— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) May 13, 2018
The BFR, key to Musk's vision of sending humans to Mars, has been much-discussed in the space community. Anticipation has been building since the CEO announced the craft could be ready to conduct orbital flights as early as 2020.
If completed, the craft will be the largest most powerful SpaceX rocket ever. According to SpaceX's specifications, BFR will measure an impressive 106 meters (348 feet) in height and 9 meters (30 feet) in diameter.
The BFR will also be able to sustain a payload of 150,000 kilograms (330,000 pounds) to Low-Earth Orbit, nearly two and a half times the payload of the Falcon Heavy. Musk hopes to use the ship beyond colonizing Mars for conducting luxury space tourism trips to the Red Planet.
The future can only tell if Musk’s ambitious plans will come to fruition. However, his latest mission did go as planned.
SpaceX Falcon 9’s final substantial upgrade, called the "Block 5" booster, was successfully launched from NASA's Kennedy Space Centre and recovered on the "Of Course I Still Love You" offshore droneship.
The event marked the first landing for a "Block 5" first stage and the 25th landing for a Falcon 9 during an orbital launch. SpaceX has succeeded in re-flying previously landed boosters 11 times so far.
These efforts are part of Musk’s plans to develop rapidly and efficiently reusable rockets and crafts in order to substantially reduce the costs of spaceflight contributing to making Mars colonization efforts economically viable. The "Block 5" upgrades mean the booster could fly 10 times, an impressive 8 times more than the maximum two of other boosters.
The "Block 5" was also designed to be more powerful than its predecessors without increasing its mass. The improved booster features a series of reliability upgrades up to par with NASA's strict crew-carrying standards in preparation for use during NASA’s astronaut ferrying missions to the International Space Station.