Elon Unbound: Musk’s Giant Leap to Mars

A view from martian orbit. (Credit: SpaceX)

by Douglas Messier
Managing Editor

Since Elon Musk unveiled his Big [Expletive] Rocket (BFR) in Adelaide last month, there has been a lot of analysis of the engineering aspects. Musk’s Ask Me Anything session on Reddit was an engineer’s dream, with the billionaire providing detailed answers about the Raptor engines, thrust to weight ratios and a host of other technical issues.

Amid all the technical talk, there has been little attention paid to what a giant leap this venture is for Musk, SpaceX and possibly the entire human race. Not only will BFR be larger and more powerful than any other rocket ever built, the audacious things Musk wants to do with it – ranging from point to point transportation on Earth to satellite delivery to sending colonists to the moon and Mars – are on a scale never before attempted. They are certainly beyond anything contemplated by the world’s space agencies.


SpaceX’s Manifest Will Continue to Confound in 2013

Below is a selected section of SpaceX’s launch manifest. Now, review it carefully; there will be a quiz.

CustomerVehicle Arrival
at Launch Site
VehicleLaunch Site
NASA Resupply to ISS – Flight 22012F9/DragonCape Canaveral
ORBCOMM – Multiple Flights2012-2014MultipleCape Canaveral
MDA Corp. (Canada)2013Falcon 9Vandenberg
Falcon Heavy Demo Flight2013Falcon HeavyVandenberg
SES (Europe)2013Falcon 9Cape Canaveral
Thaicom (Thailand)2013Falcon 9Cape Canaveral
NASA Resupply to ISS – Flight 32013F9/DragonCape Canaveral
NASA Resupply to ISS – Flight 42013F9/DragonCape Canaveral
NSPO (Taiwan)2013Falcon 9Vandenberg

Now, at first glance, that looks really, really ambitious, doesn’t it? Especially for a company that flew twice in 2012. So, just how many flights will SpaceX undertake this year? Nine? No.

WRONG! You just failed the quiz, brainiac. EPIC COSMIC FAIL!