Elon Musk will see you on Mars.
At the International Astronautical Congress (IAC) in Australia, the famous Tesla and SpaceX founder announced a slew of big advances relating to how humans may be able to travel over the next decade. Perhaps the biggest declaration from Musk related to his vision for interplanetary space travel, a long-held goal for the tech mogul.
“The most important thing I want to convey in this presentation is that I think we have figured out how to pay for it,” Musk said, in relation to traveling to Mars. “In last year’s presentation, we were really searching for how to pay for this thing.”
Musk went on to explain that the big key is making sure SpaceX rockets can be more effective for work in Earth’s orbit. Enter the aptly-named BFR, which as Musk pointed out on Twitter, comes from his love of the video game DOOM and stands for Big F***ing Rocket.
The goal is actually for the BFR to be a bit smaller than other SpaceX rockets, but with the capability to do everything that is needed in the greater Earth orbit activity.
“Essentially, we want to make our current vehicles redundant,” said Musk. “We want to have one booster and ship that replaces [current SpaceX ships] Falcon 9, Falcon Heavy, and Dragon.”
The money comes in based on the reusability of the BFR, keeping the per-launch costs down. By scaling back the design of the new rocket, it can work in low-orbit, which means deploying satellites and even bringing cargo (including humans) to the International Space Station.
The fact that this new rocket can be a sort of enabler means SpaceX can secure the funds needed for a trip to the red planet. Musk hypothesized saying that if you want a new Hubble, you can use the BFR to send one with a mirror 10 times the size of the current telescope—fully intact, without deconstructing the pieces.
Musk also unveiled SpaceX plans for the first mission to Mars, taking place in 2022, a mere five years from now.
“I feel fairly confident that we can complete the ship and prepare the ship for launch in about five years,” said Musk. “Five years feels like a long time to me.”
Crewed missions will launch in 2024, and the goals of these initial missions are to locate water.
If you’d rather stay on Earth’s terra firma, Musk had some plans for continental travel as well. A video was shown that detailed rocket-based travel on earth, allowing passengers to go almost anywhere in 30 minutes, and definitely anywhere on earth in 60 minutes.
“If you build a ship that’s capable of going to Mars, what if you take that same ship and go from one place to another on Earth?” asked Musk.
The rockets would launch from floating decks offshore major cities, with passengers boarding a ferry to get there. The rockets would reach speeds of 18,000 miles per hour. Musk even tweeted that the cost for a ticket would be the same as an economy airplane fare.
The presentations did not offer too many concrete details as to exactly what facts and figures make up the new BFR, but it’s an exciting announcement nonetheless.