Serial entrepreneur Elon Musk has said his BFR rocket will be able to take passengers to Mars by 2024.
Musk made his claims at the recent International Astronautical Congress (IAC). He also told the audience city to city rocket travel is possible with the BFR.
The key is the rocket would be reusable. It would travel to and from cities in the same way a commercial airliner does. But it would fly at around 27,000 km/h.
Musk told the IAC audience: “Most of what people consider to be long-distance trips could be completed in less than half-an-hour.”
London to New York would take just 29 minutes. Hong Kong to Singapore 22 minutes.
Who is Elon Musk?
In short one of the richest and most powerful men in the world.
He has a net worth of $20billion. He was ranked 21st in the Forbes List of the World’s Most Powerful People.
He was born in South Africa but is now an American citizen. An entrepreneur and engineer Musk has enjoyed some startling successes during his career.
He was a co-founder of PayPal and is CEO of Tesla. He is passionate about innovation but has warned about the dangers of AI.
His SpaceX company was formed as long ago as 2002. Now he is looking to crack interplanetary travel.
SpaceX manufactures rockets including the Falcon 9 and Dragon. They deploy satellites into space. SpaceX also services the International Space Station.
But now Musk intends to put all his efforts into the BFR. His ultimate goal is to enable people to live on other planets.
What is different about the BFR rocket?
Musk points out that the high cost of space travel is because of its disposable nature. Until now rockets have been single use only. This ratchets up the cost of any space travel.
These costs would tumble if the rocket is reusable. The only costs outside the original manufacture would be fuel and maintenance.
SpaceX are already well on the way to achieving this. Their Falcon 9 rocket is partly reusable.
The plan is for the BFR rocket to be totally reusable. It would also have multiple uses.
It could deploy satellites, ferry passengers or move cargo.
Landing a rocket
SpaceX have already landed a rocket on a droneship. This is the first stage in making rockets reusable. The video is below.
How likely is it we could fly to Mars?
It’s Elon Musk. He has a great track record of delivering on his promises.
It may be the biggest barrier is cost. Musk is a businessman. Profit is the driver behind his businesses.
But developing BFR will involve huge expense. SpaceX may have to attract other investment. From the US government or NASA for example. But there are obvious concerns if a government is involved with such a project.
Nevertheless, no one would bet against Musk achieving his goals. City to city rocket travel must be possible. Travelling to Mars by 2024? Maybe not so much.