Theis a large, powerful rocket system, but the company’s upcoming BFR (which stands for either Big Falcon Rocket or Big F****ing Rocket) will make any previous Falcon look like hatchback next to a Hummer.
We can now start wrapping our heads around the sheer size of the BFR after SpaceX CEO Elon Musk posted an Instagram photo late Sunday showing the “main body tool” for the interplanetary portion of the BFR, as it rests next to a TeslaModel 3 for scale.
The BFR project consists of two parts, a booster and a ship. It’s meant to replace the Falcon 9, Falcon Heavy and Dragon capsule with an eye toward eventually reaching Mars. Its entire length will be nearly 350 feet (106 meters). That’s taller than the Statue of Liberty.
The tool, which to the uninformed eye looks like the actual rocket, will be used as a mold to create part of the cylindrical body of the BFR spaceship.
Space fans on Reddit are comparing the SpaceX mold design to those used to build the carbon-fiber fuselage structures for large airplanes. For aircraft, this involves wrapping the mold in carbon fiber and then baking it in a giant oven. It’s kind of like creating a massive cannoli shell.
Check out this video of the process being used to construct the fuselage of a Boeing 787.
The BFR spaceship is mean to carry cargo and crew to Earth orbit, the moon and Mars. SpaceX aspires to send its first cargo mission to Mars in 2022, with a manned mission targeted for 2024. That’s an ambitious timeline.
Musk has said he hopes to start testing the rocket as early as 2019. But first it needs to be built.
The main body tool is a good step in that direction, but right now this is more about drumming up excitement for SpaceX’s next step.