If you follow space exploration at all these days, you know that entrepreneur Elon Musk is everywhere in the field. His company SpaceX is right there alongside NASA in terms of the American push to get humanity off of the planet more often. Musk is very clear about this. He started SpaceX with one goal in mind: "To help advance rocket-building technology to the point where we could potentially become a multi-planet species."
And SpaceX has been as good as Musk's word. Its Falcon rockets are the world's first reusable rockets. Their ability to be landed and refueled—instead of just dumped into the ocean—is a huge breakthrough. It makes space travel cheaper and more efficient. A good idea if you're interested in sending people to Mars!
Now, Musk has unveiled new images of his most exciting project yet: sending everyday passengers into space.
— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) September 17, 2018
The vehicle to do it? The BFR.
Is it the 'Best Friend Rocket'?
Even though you may love to think so, BFR doesn't actually stand for 'Best Friend Rocket'. Instead it is the more practical—and kind of boring—Big Falcon Rocket. But that's about the only thing about the BFR that you could call dull. This thing is an incredible innovation. It's intended as the world's first interplanetary transport system.
Let that sink in for a second. This isn't just a probe like Voyager—a driverless vehicle with a one-way ticket out of the solar system. This is a transport for people to travel here and back from Earth to anywhere in our solar system. Let's be clear: anytime we're talking about Voyager like it's no big deal, you know we're talking about something major.
It's an impressive 118 metres (387 feet) long—that's over 40 metres longer than a Boeing 747, the world's longest passenger aircraft. A little over half of that is a reusable rocket booster that will detach once the BFR leaves Earth (you'd need that extra power, too, if you were trying to launch 100 tons off the planet!).
The ship itself is 55 metres (180 feet), which is still about the length of an Airbus A330, a standard mid-size airliner. It will have 40 cabins and be capable of taking 100 passengers to other worlds. And speaking of passengers ...
When Musk held a press conference on Monday, September 17 to discuss the BFR, he had an extra surprise. Turns out he already has his paying customer for the date when the BFR makes its first journey to another world—a 2023 multi-day trip around the Moon. His name is Yusaku Maezawa. Who is he?
Maezawa is a Japanese entrepreneur and a huge supporter of the arts. How huge? Well, as a part of his journey, he plans on inviting artists, such as painters, photographers, authors, designers, and musicians to come with him to the Moon.
All in all, the story of BFR is clearly one that is just getting started. We can't wait for lift off!