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SpaceX is staking its future on this rocket as it prepares for Mars



SpaceX late last month successfully completed the first in a series of tests on its latest suborbital "Starhopper" prototype.

The experiment, which required the vehicle to rise from the launch platform to a height of 20 feet (65 feet) which was conducted after multiple delays. The 22-second flight was enough for SpaceX to test Star Hopper's lift-off and landing capabilities.

The Big Rocket (BFR): the "Super Heavy" booster and a 100-person spacecraft called Starship. Additional tests are scheduled, and the next one, a 200-meter "hop," wants to take place soon.

Mars mission

CEO Elon Musk's goal of Starship is to revolutionize space and put humans on Mars. Starship also wants to use additional tasks such as satellite deployment, vehicle refueling, space tourism and even suborbital flight. Starship's final version is likely to have a compressed volume of about 35,000 cubic feet, which could be up to 40 cabins, large common areas, central storage, a galley and a solar -flare shelter for Mars missions, plus 1

2 unpressurized 88 cubic meters of aft cargo containers.

The journey toward the BFR's completion has not been a short one. It officially started in September 2008 with the launch of Falcon 1, the first privately-developed liquid-fuel rocket to reach Earth orbit. SpaceX score a $ 1.6 billion CRS (Commercial Resupply Services) contract with NASA the same year; the company delivered supplies to the ISS (International Space Station) and performed other tasks defined within the contract.

In 2012, SpaceX made history with the Dragon again, its free-flying spacecraft became the first private spacecraft to visit the International Space Station. The Dragon was launched into orbit by a Falcon 9 launch vehicle, which at that time was rockable.

NASA contract

The waste of disposable rockets was one of the main factors that hampered competitiveness and growth, and SpaceX did not wait too long to remedy the problem. The solution came in 2013 when the "Grasshopper" program was completed. The in-flight review of the Grasshopper prototype has become a redesign of Falcon 9, which has become a reusable first stage, enabling a vertical take-off and landing. (The Falcon 9 still propels the Dragon's spacecraft on its regular cargo delivery flights to the ISS.)

In 2014, NASA awarded SpaceX a commercial-crew contract worth $ 2.6 billion (aka Crew Dragon), which is designed to carry astronauts to Earth orbit and beyond.

In 2018, SpaceX made the first flight of the Falcon Heavy, which called "the world's most powerful operational rocket by a factor of two, capable of carrying large payloads to orbit and supporting missions as far as the moon or mars "This year saw the first automated docking of a crew with the ISS, a necessary step before it can carry over to the ISS, scheduled for November.

Big Falcon Rocket

All of those breakthroughs and achievements – reusability, vertical landing, high-capacity payloads, crewed flights and automated docking procedures – will tie into the Big Falcon Rocket. Once released, it is expected to replace the entire SpaceX fleet, including the Falcon 9 and Falcon Heavy Launch Vehicles, as well as the Dragon. This is because SpaceX estimates BFR launches will be cheaper than the existing fleet because of the full reusability, high capacity and precision landing features of the new model. The stakes are high for the company.

SpaceX plans to become a cornerstone of Mars colonization. To that end, multiple Starships wants to be launched on Mars to serve as storage for equipment, spare parts and, most importantly, leftover rocket fuel. The accumulated fuel may or may not return to Earth, turning the journey into a round trip, rather than making Mars a final destination.

The first flight of the BFR is scheduled for 2020. It wants to be interesting to see the Big Rocket and the Starship wants to live up to expectations. Let's hope they do.

Jurica Dujmovic is a MarketWatch columnist.


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