On September 25-29 the 68th International Astronautical Congress 2017 IAC2017 was held in Adelaide (Australia). This event was of landmark nature because the most active aerospace industry player, SpaceX company, made several important announcements, including its plans to colonize both the Moon and Mars, to initiate high-speed rocked flights within the Earth and much more. Our digest will keep you well-informed about all the intentions of SpaceX.
Once Elon Reeve Musk said that the largest ever rocked will be created. It will open up new horizons of near-the-earth space exploration. This time founder, CEO, and CTO of SpaceX made public disclosure of some parameters of transportation facility bearing the naughty name Big F… Rocket. This is a carrier rocket, 106 m in height and 9 m in diameter, will be able to fly to the Moon and back with a cargo and with no refueling.
Peculiarity of Moon landing (in contrast to Mars and the Earth) is that the satellite has no atmosphere, in which spacecraft landing is slowed due to friction. Therefore, as of today the company is optimizing the possibility to perform landing by the exclusive use of exhaust thrust – without regard for the atmosphere “assistance”. According to Musk, 48-meter rocket with 1,100 tons of rocket fuel (240 tons of methane and 860 tons of liquid oxygen) on board will cope with this task. Raptor engines (42 of them will be placed on one such rocked) are already at the development stage.
Manned spaceship, launched using the BFR, will have the space cabin of 825 cubic meters: in addition to stockrooms, cook-house, and other public accommodations, 40 cabins will be placed there. Hundreds of crew members that will be reside in such cabins will also have escape compartment to be protected from solar storms.
Project funding is going to be covered by the receipts from SpaceX rockets launches: currently the company is the world’s second-biggest delivery agent of goods to Earth’s orbit, and next year it is going to reach 60% of the gross share of advancing market.
Colonization of the Moon and Mars
Lunar base creation is one of the priorities of SpaceX. As soon as the BFR is built, this will be not a question of if but when. Elon Musk said that the first BFR rockets will send spacecrafts to the Red Planet in 2022. The flight will last about 3 months.
Unmanned spacecrafts will deliver to Mars all the equipment needed to perform colonization, lunar base creation, capacities for fuel (methane) extraction and filling station creation, and will also find places for the safe landing of manned spacecrafts that will be sent following the first expedition in 2024.
Flights will be performed once in 27 months, during the periods of “launch windows”, when the Earth and Mars are at the shortest distance from each other. Rockets of the first expedition will be refueled in the Earth’s orbit.
As Musk previously said, Martian colony town will be built as a Mars colonization project, where (nearly in 40-100 years) about one million people will constantly reside.
BFR is still not built and funds shall still be raised to bring it to life. In the meantime, SpaceX plans to further improve the existing solution that has already revolutionized the aerospace industry. It is commonly known that the first reusable rocket stage led to considerable cost cutting while delivering of goods to the Earth’s orbit. At present, the second rocket stage is under construction to cut the cost of commercial launches of commercial even more. By the end of 2018 the company is going to perform landing of the second rocket stage, first on the platform in the ocean and then on firm ground.
Flights within the Earth
Concurrently with Hyperloop network development – transport system, in which passengers and goods will be transported in hermetically-sealed capsules through the underground tunnels at a speed of more than 500 kph (310 mph), Elon Musk offers to link the uttermost points of the Earth on different continents using the rockets. The rocket flight from New York to Shanghai will last about 39 minutes. In broader terms, it will take you one hour to get from any city on the planet to any other city where commercial spaceport is located. Transportation speed will reach 27,000 kph (16,800 mph).
Atomic rocket power plant
SpaceX company is going to conduct scientific research to create spacecrafts driven by nuclear power. This will reduce the travel time of rockets within the solar system.
SpaceX has already introduced spacesuits for astronauts – attractive and not bulky, created with a view to the fact that they will be worn by space tourists too. Now Elon Musk says that tourist flights to Mars are scheduled to 2023. The cost of the first “tour trips” will reach about $10 bln, but the company is going to improve the technologies, to cut the prime cost of long-distance travel in space and to estimate “tour to Mars” at $200,000.