Two weeks after SpaceX founder Elon Musk updated his vision for a monster rocket designed to take settlers to the moon and Mars, he’s taking questions from his fans today during a Reddit “Ask Me Anything” session.
As a foretaste, SpaceX President Gwynne Shotwell provided further details about the company’s yet-to-be built BFR (“Big Falcon Rocket”) on Wednesday at a forum presented by the Stanford Student Space Initiative, with venture capital guru (and SpaceX board member) Steve Jurvetson hosting a Q&A.
Shotwell’s talk fleshed out Musk’s plan to employ the BFR not only for sending payloads and people to Mars, but also for moon trips and point-to-point suborbital travel. Afterward, Jurvetson turned to the Reddit community to capture the high points of the conversation.
Here are a few snippets from Shotwell to chew over in advance of Musk’s AMA:
- The BFR would be produced at a new waterfront facility in Los Angeles, because the cost of transporting rockets from SpaceX’s Falcon 9 factory in Hawthorne, Calif., would be prohibitively high. More production sites could be built near BFR launch sites.
- SpaceX’s yet-to-be-completed launch facility near Brownsville, Texas, would be a perfect place for launching the BFR.
- The spaceship will be designed so that most people will be able to withstand the G-forces that arise during a suborbital point-to-point ride, but the experience will be “sportier” than an airplane trip.
- A scaled version of the BFR’s methane-fueled Raptor rocket engine has been tested, and SpaceX is working on a larger version.
- SpaceX’s Falcon Heavy rocket is ready for its maiden launch from Florida in a December time frame. The schedule depends on pad availability, including a shift of Falcon 9 launches from Launch Complex 39A to the repaired Launch Complex 40.
- SpaceX is pressing ahead with work to build a satellite constellation that could provide global internet access. Shotwell said the company can fund BFR development as well as the satellites, which are being developed at facilities in Redmond, Wash. — but it might take some creative financing.
This report has been updated with the schedule for Musk’s Reddit AMA session.