Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti recently announced that SpaceX's Big Falcon Rocket is being built in the Port of Los Angeles. Garcetti made the announcement during a speech in the State of the City on Monday and confirmed a series of speculations about SpaceX's plans for the city.
SpaceX apparently leases an 18-hectare facility in the Port of Los Angeles for 30 years for a period of 18 years. This is a good location for the company as the Port of Los Angeles is located near Long Beach, just 20 miles from the company headquarters. The company plans to build a port manufacturing facility equipped with state-of-the-art technology
SpaceX and the Port of Los Angeles
Gwynne Shotwell, president of SpaceX, recently said that the Port of Los Angeles has been serving as of 201
Mayor Garcetti agreed with this view and said on Twitter that the BFR has the potential to lead humanity "deeper into the cosmos than ever before."
Garcetti said of the SpaceX partnership:
If This year has taught us something, it is great to think – to pursue something unattainable. We have the self-confidence to look up to the stars and the courage to realize our dreams.
SpaceX is in the process of relocating equipment to temporary storage areas and workshops on the site. The company will produce the components of its rockets in the port, as it facilitates transport to launch platforms and test areas. Part of this equipment contains a tool, a giant form, around which carbon fibers are wound. The carbon fiber is used to create the main body of the FSO.
Computer presentations of the buildings at the Port of Los Angeles imply that SpaceX is loading its booster segments and spaceship parts onto heavy barges that will move them to Texas. SpaceX currently has a rocket test facility in Texas and is expected to make its launch site in South Texas operational by the end of this year. The launch pad in South Texas may not make orbital launches as soon as it becomes active, but may perform suborbital tests of the FSO / FSO. Musk reported that the BFR spaceship will be the most challenging part of the BFR, but that they will conduct "short bunker flights" by early next year.
The BFR is a two-piece launcher capable of carrying 150 tonnes of cargo and 100 people into space. The BFR's two separate modules consist of a 190 foot reusable rocket booster a 156 foot high reusable ship. After the first launch, the ship can be refilled in orbit and then launched to Mars, the Moon or elsewhere. SpaceX is currently hoping its first mission to Mars will be between 2022 and 2024.
The BFR was developed to burn liquid methane as fuel. This is because liquid methane could potentially be produced on many different moons and planets throughout the solar system. The reusability of the BFR has the potential to save millions of dollars as the missiles are disposed of after use. This could make space exploration much cheaper and give more people / companies the chance to go into space.
SpaceX and Elon Musk have made their ambitious plans known with different reactions in the world. NASA has more or less ignored SpaceX's attempts to build reusable rockets like the BFR and preferred to do things in their own way. (NASA has its own mega-rocket booster, the space-launch system.) However, the US Air Force was quite prepared to work with the company because it was "utterly stupid" not to use SpaceX technology. SpaceX has already launched rockets from Vanderberg Air Force Base, but time will tell if any of the equipment manufactured in the Port of Los Angeles will be used for US Air Force equipment.
SpaceX's Giant Party Balloon
Beyond Preparations SpaceX is also experimenting with the construction and testing of the BFR using various methods to bring rockets back from orbit. Elon Musk recently said on Twitter that SpaceX will try to use a "giant party balloon" to "bring the missile upper stage back from orbital speed."
Musk is probably referring to the upper tier of the SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket. The Falcon 9 rocket currently serves as the backbone of SpaceX operations, and while the bulk of the missile is reused after a flight, the rocket's upper stage is being scrapped. If Musk's statements actually refer to the Falcon 9, the vehicle could be completely reusable.
This would not be the first time that balloons have been used to slow down spacecraft entering the Earth's atmosphere and leaving orbit. NASA has already used balloons in several space flight experiments, including the attempt to use a "flying saucer" -shaped balloon as a heat shield for landings on Mars. Other experiments include using balloons as inflatable parachutes.
If properly constructed, a balloon may be able to brake the vehicle and protect it from the immense heat that builds up the aircraft. Musk noted that a giant balloon made of durable materials would be a device that could maintain its shape across the various Mach regimes. Musk says SpaceX, in order to successfully retrieve the upper stage of a rocket, would need to realign their missile's descent near shore and position a fishing vessel near the descent area.
SpaceX already has a fishing vessel called "Mr. Steven" that moves along a huge net supported by a series of metal arms. It is intended to catch payload fairings that fall off the Falcon 9 at take-off.
It remains to be seen what exactly Musk meant by "party balloon" and what SpaceX will achieve with its future efforts. For now, the city of Los Angeles has a long partnership with the company it can look forward to.
The opinions expressed are solely the authors and do not express the views or opinions of Science Trends or the author's institution.