Elon Musk and SpaceX want to colonize Mars. This article touches on a few of the latest developments in the BFR mission, including the manufacturing base and the latest tooling.
BFR, or the Big Falcon Rocket (among other interpretations), is Elon Musk’s in-development spacecraft tasked with colonizing Mars for humanity. By 2022, Musk hopes to launch a BFR to Mars in order to set up a space station that will spearhead future BFR-Mars colonization projects.
Watch the video below to become familiar with the proposed BFR spacecraft:
After the detailed BFR Mars Colonization plan announcement last year, the first BFR launch is scheduled for 2022. At the time of that announcement, the BFR’s Raptor rockets had already started testing. Since then, it’s only been onward and upward for Musk’s BFR goals.
Here are a few updates on the BFR’s progress.
BFR to be Manufactured in Los Angeles
The BFR, which is expected to carry a volume similar to the International Space Station and stand almost 110 meters tall, will need a lot of room to grow. In order to ensure easy shipping to launch sites, the ideal construction site for such a large spacecraft should be near water.
With this in mind, an approval was handed down by the Port of Los Angeles to a subsidiary of SpaceX for Berth 240. Berth 240 is an abandoned 18-acre site about 20 miles south of SpaceX’s headquarters. According to multiple publications, this is set to be the birthplace of the BFR spacecraft.
SpaceX’s Main Body Tool for BFR
Now that SpaceX has the space to build in the Port of Los Angeles, we will likely see many updates to the spacecraft’s construction over the coming months.
In fact, early this morning, Musk posted a photo of a tooling that, presumably, will help construct carbon-fiber composites for the BFR’s upper stage. If you’ve taken time to watch the BFR intro video at the top of this article, you know that this stage is the actual spaceship. The tooling itself is a kind of mold. Carbon fiber is wound around the tooling and the body of the spaceship is created.
For the BFR, using carbon fiber to construct fuel tanks and the spaceship body will save mass. This key design element will enable the BFR to lift the ~150 tons of a payload into orbit and beyond.
As Ars Technica reports, SpaceX’s president, Gwynne Shotwell, mentioned that “hop tests” of the BFR spaceship might start later this year or in 2019. The testing would take place at SpaceX’s land near Brownsville, Texas.