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posted by Fnord666 on Wednesday April 18 2018, @05:54AM   Printer-friendly
from the somebody's-compensating-for-something dept.

The Mayor of Los Angeles has announced that SpaceX will begin production of the BFR at the port of Los Angeles:

SpaceX can start building its "Big Fucking Rocket," now that it has officially found a home in LA. Mayor Eric Garcetti has announced on Twitter that the private space giant "will start production development of the Big Falcon Rocket (the spacecraft's tamer name, apparently)" at the port of Los Angeles. SpaceX designed the 348-foot-long behemoth to fly humanity to the moon, Mars and beyond. It will be able to carry up to [150] tons in payload, whereas Falcon Heavy can only carry [63.8] tons. "This vehicle holds the promise of taking humanity deeper into the cosmos than ever before," he added, along with an illustration of the company's massive interplanetary spacecraft.

The massive cylindrical body of the BFR's fabrication mold has been photographed at a tent at the Port of San Pedro (compare to this earlier photo of the main body tool):

Finally, it's worth noting just how shockingly busy the BFR tent was on both April 13th and 14th, as well as the 8th (the first day Pauline visited the facility). With upwards of 40 cars parked at the tent, it's blindingly clear that SpaceX is not simply using the tent as a temporary storage location – alongside the arrival of composite fabrication materials (prepreg sheets, epoxy, etc) from Airtech International, SpaceX undeniably intends to begin initial fabrication of the first BFR prototypes in this tent, although they will likely eventually move the activities to the Berth 240 Mars rocket factory. That's certainly not a sentence I ever expected to write, but it is what it is.

The BFR's height may be elongated from its planned total of 106 meters.

Related: SpaceX to Launch Five Times in April, Test BFR by 2019
SpaceX BFR vs. ULA Vulcan Showdown in the 2020s
SpaceX Valued at $25 Billion... and More

Original Submission

Related Stories

SpaceX to Launch Five Times in April, Test BFR by 2019 15 comments

SpaceX will attempt to launch five Falcon 9 rockets in April. This includes an International Space Station (ISS) resupply mission and a mission to launch Bangabandhu-1, Bangladesh's first satellite. The Bangabandhu-1 launch is planned to be the first to use SpaceX's Falcon 9 Block 5 rocket, which may be the final major iteration of Falcon 9 before replacement by BFR.

At a South by Southwest (SXSW) panel, Elon Musk said that SpaceX could test the Big Falcon Rocket (BFR) "spaceship" as soon as the first half of 2019. The spaceship is the second stage of the complete BFR rocket, would be capable of reaching orbit without the first stage booster, and alone has over 50% more thrust than an entire Falcon 9.

The initial tests would likely be similar to the Grasshopper vertical takeoff and landing tests.

Also at USA Today, MarketWatch, and SpaceNews.

Original Submission

SpaceX BFR vs. ULA Vulcan Showdown in the 2020s 16 comments

The United Launch Alliance's CEO Tory Bruno has been making his case for the upcoming Vulcan rocket and Advanced Cryogenic Evolved Stage. The system could compete against SpaceX's Falcon Heavy and BFR in the mid-2020s:

The maiden flight of the Vulcan currently is targeted for the middle of 2020. Two successful commercial launches are required as part of the government certification process, followed by a required upper stage upgrade to improve performance, either moving from two to four Centaur RL10 engines or using a different set of engines altogether. If all goes well, ULA will introduce its new upper stage in 2024, the Advanced Cryogenic Evolved Stage, or ACES, that Bruno says will revolutionize spaceflight. "This is on the scale of inventing the airplane," Bruno told reporters during the media roundtable. "That's how revolutionary this upper stage is. It's 1900, and I'm inventing the airplane. People don't even know what they're going to do with it yet. But I'm confident it's going to create a large economy in space that doesn't exist today. No one is working on anything like this."

The Vulcan will stand 228 feet tall with a first stage powered by two engines provided by either Blue Origin, a company owned by Amazon-founder Jeff Bezos, or Aerojet Rocketdyne. Blue Origin's BE-4 engine burns methane and liquid oxygen while Aerojet Rocketdyne's AR-1 powerplant burns a more traditional mixture of oxygen and highly refined kerosene.

[...] ULA plans to begin engine recovery operations after the Vulcan is routinely flying and after the ACES upper stage is implemented. Bruno said the engines represent two-thirds of the cost of the stage and getting them back every time, with no impact on mission performance, will pay big dividends. SpaceX, in contrast, must use propellant to fly its Falcon 9 stages back to touchdown. Heavy payloads bound for high orbits require most if not all of the rocket's propellant and in those cases, recovery may not be possible. As a result, SpaceX's ability to recover rocket stages depends on its manifest and the orbital demands of those payloads.

"Simplistically, if you recover the old booster propulsively then you can do that part of the time, you get all the value back some of the time," Bruno said. "Or, you can recover just the engine, which is our concept, and then you get only part of the value back, about two thirds ... but you get to do it every single time because there's no performance hit. So it really turns into math."

ULA expects to fly at least 7-8 more Delta IV Heavy rockets between now and the early 2020s, with some Atlas V launches happening concurrently with the beginning of Vulcan launches in the mid-2020s.

The U.S. Air Force has just awarded ULA a $355 million contract to launch two Air Force Space Command spacecraft, and SpaceX a $290 million contract to launch three GPS Block III satellites.

In addition to testing BFR with short hops starting in 2019, SpaceX plans to send BFR into orbit by 2020. The company is leasing land in Los Angeles, reportedly for the construction of BFR rockets.

Related: SpaceX's Reusable Rockets Could End EU's Arianespace, and Other News
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SpaceX to Launch Five Times in April, Test BFR by 2019

Original Submission

SpaceX Valued at $25 Billion... and More 18 comments

SpaceX has raised $507 million, bringing the company's valuation to about $25 billion. That makes SpaceX the third most valuable venture-backed startup behind Uber and Airbnb, and also raises Elon Musk's worth by $1.4 billion to about $21.3 billion. SpaceX will launch NASA's TESS spacecraft on Monday, and plans to launch Bangabandhu-1 on May 5 using the Block 5 version of Falcon 9.

While SpaceX is planning to launch a record 30 missions in 2018, and possibly 50 missions in upcoming years, SpaceX expects the bulk of its future revenue to come from its upcoming Starlink satellite internet service. Internal documents show an estimate of $30 billion in revenue from Starlink and $5 billion from launches by 2025.

SpaceX President and Chief Operating Officer Gwynne Shotwell has said that the company's BFR could be used for 100-person city-to-city flights within a decade:

A lot can (and probably will) change in a decade. But the idea is that a very large rocket, capable of carrying about 100 people, could fly like an aircraft and do point-to-point travel on Earth much faster than a plane — halfway across the globe in about 30 to 40 minutes, Shotwell said, landing on a pad five to 10 kilometers outside of a city center. Shotwell estimated the ticket cost would be somewhere between economy and business class on a plane — so, likely in the thousands of dollars for transoceanic travel. "But you do it in an hour."

"I'm personally invested in this one," she said, "because I travel a lot, and I do not love to travel. And I would love to get to see my customers in Riyadh, leave in the morning and be back in time to make dinner."

How could travel by rocket cost so little? Shotwell said the efficiency would come from being fast enough to be able to operate a route a dozen or so times a day, whereas a long-haul airplane often only does one flight per day.

She also said that the company could enable a manned mission to Mars within a decade. Boeing's CEO is also "hopeful" that humans will set foot on Mars within a decade.

Finally, Elon Musk has showed off an image of the main body tool/manufacturing mold for the BFR. BFR has a height of 106 meters and diameter of 9 meters, compared to a height of 70 meters and diameter of 3.7 meters for Falcon 9.

Original Submission

City Council Approves SpaceX's BFR Facility at the Port of Los Angeles 10 comments

All systems are go for SpaceX's BFR rocket facility at Port of Los Angeles after City Council OKs plan

The Los Angeles City Council on Tuesday approved a plan allowing SpaceX to build and operate a facility at the Port of L.A., where the Hawthorne space company will produce its next-generation BFR rockets and spacecraft.

The vote gives formal approval to a plan that got the greenlight last month from the L.A. Board of Harbor Commissioners.

During a presentation to the council, L.A. City Councilman Joe Buscaino said the project could result in up to 700 new jobs.

Under the terms of the deal, SpaceX will have an initial 10-year lease with two additional 10-year extension options. The company's initial rent will be $1.38 million a year, with annual adjustments based on the Consumer Price Index, but it can offset a total of $44.1 million in rent by making improvements to the Terminal Island site at Berth 240 in its first 20 years of tenancy.

Previously: SpaceX to Begin BFR Production at the Port of Los Angeles

Related: SpaceX to Launch Five Times in April, Test BFR by 2019
SpaceX Valued at $25 Billion... and More

Original Submission

SpaceX Organizes Secretive Mars Landing Conference at University of Colorado Boulder 65 comments

SpaceX organizes inaugural conference to plan landings on Mars

No one can deny that SpaceX founder Elon Musk has thought a lot about how to transport humans safely to Mars with his Big Falcon Rocket. But when it comes to Musk's highly ambitious plans to settle Mars in the coming decades, some critics say Musk hasn't paid enough attention to what people will do once they get there.

However, SpaceX may be getting more serious about preparing for human landings on Mars, both in terms of how to keep people alive as well as to provide them with something meaningful to do. According to private invitations seen by Ars, the company will host a "Mars Workshop" on Tuesday and Wednesday this week at the University of Colorado Boulder. Although the company would not comment directly, a SpaceX official confirmed the event and said the company regularly meets with a variety of experts concerning its missions to Mars.

This appears to be the first meeting of such magnitude, however, with nearly 60 key scientists and engineers from industry, academia, and government attending the workshop, including a handful of leaders from NASA's Mars exploration program. The invitation for the inaugural Mars meeting encourages participants to contribute to "active discussions regarding what will be needed to make such missions happen." Attendees are being asked to not publicize the workshop or their attendance.

The meeting is expected to include an overview of the spaceflight capabilities that SpaceX is developing with the Big Falcon rocket and spaceship, which Musk has previously outlined at length during international aerospace meetings in 2016 and 2017. Discussion topics will focus on how best to support hundreds of humans living on Mars, such as accessing natural resources there that will lead to a sustainable outpost.

Related: SpaceX to Begin BFR Production at the Port of Los Angeles
City Council Approves SpaceX's BFR Facility at the Port of Los Angeles
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Original Submission

SpaceX Plans to Fly a Passenger Around the Moon Using BFR 14 comments

After a previously planned flight around the Moon using a Falcon Heavy fizzled out, SpaceX has announced that it will send a private passenger around the Moon using a BFR launch vehicle. More details will be announced on Monday:

On Thursday evening, without any advance notice, SpaceX tweeted that is had signed the world's "first private passenger to fly around the Moon aboard our BFR launch vehicle." Moreover, the company promised to reveal "who's flying and why" on Monday, September 17. The announcement will take place at the company's headquarters in Hawthorne, Calif.

There were only two other clues—tweets from Elon Musk himself. Was the rendering of the Big Falcon Spaceship in SpaceX's tweet new? Yes, Musk said. And was he the passenger? In response to this, the founder of SpaceX simply tweeted a Japanese flag emoji. This would seem to be a strong clue that the passenger is from Japan. Or maybe Musk was enjoying the epic Seven Samurai movie at that moment.

By announcing this on Thursday, and waiting four days to provide more details, the company has set off a big guessing game as to who will fly. Of course that is an interesting question, but we have many other questions that we'd like to see answered before that. We've included some of those questions below, along with some wild and (slightly) informed guesses. Musk even answered one of them for us.

The design of the BFS has apparently changed to include three prominent fins and an underside heat shield.

Related: How to Get Back to the Moon in 4 Years, Permanently
SpaceX to Launch Five Times in April, Test BFR by 2019
SpaceX to Begin BFR Production at the Port of Los Angeles
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Original Submission

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  • (Score: 0, Troll) by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday April 18 2018, @06:01AM (13 children)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday April 18 2018, @06:01AM (#668451)

    Trying to run a factory in California is nuts. The taxes and regulation are brutal.

    Lots of places are easier: Texas, Florida, Nevada...

    • (Score: 2, Insightful) by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday April 18 2018, @06:24AM (5 children)

      by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday April 18 2018, @06:24AM (#668457)

      It is why rural areas should float their infrastructure demands themselves. Self sufficient my ass. Read the tax bill to see our hidden welfare queens. They aren’t black and don’t drive Cadillacs.

      • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday April 18 2018, @05:33PM (3 children)

        by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday April 18 2018, @05:33PM (#668653)

        Urban leftists vote for welfare. If they want it, they should pay for it. Rural areas shouldn't have to pay for stuff they vote against.

        • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday April 18 2018, @08:07PM (2 children)

          by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday April 18 2018, @08:07PM (#668713)

          You make zero sense here.

          • (Score: 2) by tibman on Wednesday April 18 2018, @11:49PM (1 child)

            by tibman (134) Subscriber Badge on Wednesday April 18 2018, @11:49PM (#668759)

            Might be news to you but "rural states" often have cities in them : )

            SN won't survive on lurkers alone. Write comments.
            • (Score: 2) by realDonaldTrump on Thursday April 19 2018, @09:08AM

              by realDonaldTrump (6614) on Thursday April 19 2018, @09:08AM (#668945) Homepage Journal

              So true. People think Pennsylvania is nothing but farms. And it has so many! But it has the Harrisburg International Airport (they call it MDT). Tremendous airport. I fly in, I hold a rally -- I've done two rallies there -- and THOUSANDS of people show up. It's incredible. And they love me, no matter what. Because they know I'm Making America Great Again.

              California, it's the same. It's our biggest farm state, as everyone knows. It's #1 for farming. And 2nd for livestock. But it has the Los Angeles International Airport (they call it LAX). Beautiful airport, looks like it landed from outer space. Like an alien spaceship. It has Trump National Golf Club, Los Angeles. I'm very proud of that one. And Beverly Hills, it's the Harrisburg of California. I fly in, I hold a fundraiser -- and I get MILLIONS of dollars for our terrific Republican Party. It's incredible. And I've had some great rallies there. The CITIZENS there love me. Thousands of them. Because I'm Making America Great Again.

      • (Score: 2) by realDonaldTrump on Thursday April 19 2018, @08:36AM

        by realDonaldTrump (6614) on Thursday April 19 2018, @08:36AM (#668933) Homepage Journal

        My dad loved Cadillac. And I love Cadillac, it's an American classic. I had one with a VERY SPECIAL license plate, it said DJT. People don't know, those are my initials. It was like I had it monogrammed!! Great conversation piece. It got me so much pussy. And nobody ever, ever called me a welfare queen. They called me very smart. Because I got some AMAZING tax abatements!!!!

    • (Score: 2) by takyon on Wednesday April 18 2018, @11:32AM (4 children)

      by takyon (881) <reversethis-{gro ... s} {ta} {noykat}> on Wednesday April 18 2018, @11:32AM (#668519) Journal

      Due to the size of BFR they require a coastal area/port for now.

      [SIG] 10/28/2017: Soylent Upgrade v14 []
      • (Score: 1, Interesting) by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday April 18 2018, @05:30PM (2 children)

        by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday April 18 2018, @05:30PM (#668652)

        Let's start with Florida. Most of the SpaceX rockets launch from there anyway. The area right around Cape Canaveral is great. Fort Lauderdale, Jacksonville, and Miami all work too.

        Then there is Texas. SpaceX is building a launch pad there. Houston is an obvious place, but the coast is long.

        Then there is Mississippi, with Stennis Space Center, where engines are tested.

        Then there is Louisiana, where the largest portion of the Saturn V was built.

        Then there is Alabama, Georgia, South Carolina...

        Those are just the obvious ones. We can easily transport a BFG on the Mississippi River and on the Missouri River. That opens up a lot of possibilities in the middle of the country.

        The northern part of the east coast is generally troublesome like California, but New Hampshire isn't too bad. That is a possibility too.

        • (Score: 2) by ElizabethGreene on Wednesday April 18 2018, @08:44PM

          by ElizabethGreene (6748) Subscriber Badge on Wednesday April 18 2018, @08:44PM (#668723) Journal

          $0.01 - Hurricanes
          $0.01 - Space kit like the second stages are usually deorbited into the Pacific because of its high concentration of nothing. Houston and the Gulf are shallower, smaller targets, with a much lower concentration of nothing.

        • (Score: 2) by Immerman on Wednesday May 09 2018, @02:12PM

          by Immerman (3985) on Wednesday May 09 2018, @02:12PM (#677431)

          Of course one of your primary considerations is where your engineers are willing to live. After all rocket production is a lot more engineer-heavy than cars or can-openers. ven full-scale BFR production will probably only be a few rockets a year, *maybe* a few dozen if looking to rapidly build a fleet of hundreds, which seems silly given the currently limited demand for launch services, and the fact that the BFR is being designed to be reusable enough that one or two of them could handle pretty much the entire global demand for several years. Most of the process will be design, testing, and revision.

      • (Score: 2) by Immerman on Wednesday May 09 2018, @02:03PM

        by Immerman (3985) on Wednesday May 09 2018, @02:03PM (#677429)

        Seems rather small though - It looks like Berth 240 is only about 650x350 feet, maybe twice that if the warehouse-looking structures at the south end are included. I would have thought they'd need more room to build something that size. Though I suppose they may only need to build the fuselage and fuel tanks there, along with final assembly. Everything else should be small enough to be transported overland without difficulties. And as I recall, both tanks and fuselage were going to be carbon-composites, so might well be built with the same equipment, in which case I could see there being enough room for construction, testing, and storage.

        Berth 240, Terminal Island, LA:,-118.2697217,356m/data=!3m1!1e3 []

    • (Score: 4, Informative) by ElizabethGreene on Wednesday April 18 2018, @02:16PM

      by ElizabethGreene (6748) Subscriber Badge on Wednesday April 18 2018, @02:16PM (#668580) Journal

      My understanding is the external requirements make this location, within the port of LA, good in this instance.

      It's got...
        * Deepwater port access - It's only a matter of time before you see open ocean launches of this kit.
        * Lots of warehouse space available - They almost ran out of storage space when they started recovering Falcon cores.
        * Great weather - Makes rocketry easier.
        * Proximity to Hawthorne - Well within tunneling distance. ;)
        * Transport infrastructure - Very important. The BFR will be as tall as a 30 story building. That's a lot of freight.

      I have one concern. My understanding is the Dockworkers' union effectively runs the port. I sincerely hope that doesn't become an issue.

    • (Score: 2) by fritsd on Wednesday April 18 2018, @06:31PM

      by fritsd (4586) on Wednesday April 18 2018, @06:31PM (#668672) Journal

      Maybe it depends on how much longer a transpacific flight is than a transatlantic flight.

      Los Angeles - (rocket) - Dubai - (plane) - Frankfurt, for example.

      If you'd divide the world into four orange slices, starting from the meridian of Los Angeles, then:

      - slice 1 (Americas) is cheapest/quickest to fly
      - slice 4 (transpacific) is cheapest/quickest to fly
      - slice 2 and 3 (everywhere except Americas and East Asia) it *could* be faster (cheaper?? naah) to take the rocket, then the plane

      Whereas if you start from the meridian of Cape Kennedy:

      - slice 1 (transatlantic and Latin America) cheapest/quickest to fly
      - slice 4 (North America) cheapest/quickest to fly
      - slice 2 and 3 (everywhere except Americas) it *could* be faster to take the rocket and plane

      Hmm.. maybe Cape Kennedy would be better. To Singapore in under two hours?

  • (Score: 2) by fritsd on Wednesday April 18 2018, @03:54PM (2 children)

    by fritsd (4586) on Wednesday April 18 2018, @03:54PM (#668621) Journal

    What's opposite (34, 242)?


    Maybe point it to a more populated region, say Oman or UAE?

    Launching a ballistic BFR at Bandar Abbas or the Khyber Pass might be .. misinterpreted ..

    • (Score: 2) by Zinho on Wednesday April 18 2018, @09:09PM

      by Zinho (759) on Wednesday April 18 2018, @09:09PM (#668734)

      34 south, 62 east is the middle of the Indian Ocean. []
      Yeah, Madagascar is about the closest land to there.

      PS - I haven't figured out how to share the antipodes map [] with a specific search, but it's a great tool for finding the other side of the world when you need it.

      "Space Exploration is not endless circles in low earth orbit." -Buzz Aldrin
    • (Score: 2) by Immerman on Wednesday May 09 2018, @02:18PM

      by Immerman (3985) on Wednesday May 09 2018, @02:18PM (#677435)

      Basically the entire continental US is opposite the Indian ocean. But hey, if you're flying halfway around the world at near orbital speeds, another thousand miles more or less isn't going to make much difference.