Friday, September 29, 2017

Becoming A Multi-Planet Species, v.2.0

On Friday, September 29, 2017, SpaceX founder and CEO Elon Musk delivered a presentation to the International Astronautical Congress in Adelaide, Australia. This presentation updated a bold, visionary plan for Mars settlement he introduced last year in Guadalajara, Mexico. The updated version included a downsizing of the Interplanetary Transport System introduced last year (from ginormous to just really huge), which enables its use in for other applications including Earth orbital and lunar missions, and even for point-to-point suborbital transport around the Earth. With its multiple applications, the name of the vehicle appears now to be TBD. Musk seems to have reverted to his original nickname for the vehicle, the BFR (meaning "Big F---ing Rocket).

The resizing of the SpaceX vehicle and its application to multiple uses is designed to make it more affordable. SpaceX plans to phase out production of its Falcon and Dragon vehicles after stockpiling an inventory so that the largely reuseable vehicles will be available for years after their production has ended. How the economics of this plan will pay relative to rising competitors in the space launch/travel industry and, for the suborbital transportation service, with competitors in the aviation industry, remains to be seen. But Elon Musk is known for breaking the mold and pushing whole industries to innovate. This latest venture to expand humanity's role beyond Earth will certainly be interesting to watch.

No comments: