Gwynne apparently had some interesting things to say about the plans. They’re going to (as some have surmised) built a production facility at LA Harbor, because transportation from Hawthorne would be too unwieldy. And it also makes sense that they’d use Bolsca Chica as the first launch site. Particularly if they use an off-shore platform that won’t require solidifying the soil at the launch site. Haven’t checked, but I’m pretty sure it will easily fit through the Canal.

[Update a while later]

Meanwhile, in China, a private (?!) company wants to copycat them. I take this more seriously than the government program.

23 thoughts on “BFR”

  1. Typo, I think you meant Boca Chica…

    Are there offshore “platforms” along the trajectory available? Does the 9m BFR preclude an ASDS approach? Either way there is the transport issue. Maybe lay the BFR on its side for the tow home?

    The plan seems to prefer some type of “capture” architecture over landing legs and that will likely only be achievable if a sea bed platform is used.

    Do they sell popcorn anywhere near McDonough marine?

    1. Or they might just pound sand and pour concrete until they have a workable land-based LZ. Is it that much worse than the Cape?

    2. Bolsa Chica might be okay, it’s a nice beach close to the old Rockwell Seal Beach facilities, and you could see the lights of the oil rigs from the beach, so you’d have line-of-sight to see launches, and maybe even re-purpose a rig for launch/landing (have to make sure there aren’t any volatiles left). You could run the ferry from the Seal Beach pier out to the platform, after people bought souvenirs in town.

      BTW, hopefully everyone understands that I’m joking, if not, “I’m joking”.

  2. She also made a comment about boring tunnels on Mars. Seems like a win for the Moon too. You can drill 6-foot diameter tunnels with a 17-ton boring machine (piece of cake for BFR that can land more on the Moon). Might need a redesign to make it electric.

    1. Sam, I’m curious why you mention 6 foot tunnels? That wouldn’t be big enough for people. How about 10-12 foot tunnels? Would that machine fit on a BFR or would it have to be sent in pieces?

      1. Maybe he meant meters.

        The limiting factor for size on a cargo BFR wouldn’t be the fairing but rather cargo door size or wight limits on the crane, or whatever system they devise to unload cargo. And a planetary cargo BFR wouldn’t be the same as a cargo BFR that delivers things to space.

        That means at least five variants of BFR ships, with each one getting used more/less than the others. Amortizing cost works well for variants that will be used more often, like refueling and space cargo ships. But how many reuses for a planetary passenger or cargo ships?

        1. There’s no reason a tunneling machine has to be that massive. Anything that works as well as pick and shovel but doesn’t require a lot of manual labor would be enough. An edger (angled saw blade on an arm) with augers to remove fill is all you really need. All of that can be easily be manufactured on site from local materials if you have enough energy. Iron will wear, but it will do the job and being produced on site means you don’t have to import anything exotic.

          Multiple augers are going to be wanted for removing the fill in any case.

          1. Grinding is greatly affected by how much force is applied and mass helps, but there are other ways to ensure sufficient force.

            Too much force can lock up a cutting tool, but to fix that you don’t need the whole machine to be massive, just the tooling which is very easy when your material is locally so abundant (you can always back off the pressure as well.)

            Permafrost could be an issue in either direction. Simply heating the face might turn it into hot butter? It might be simpler not to use cutting tools at all. Just blast [salt water?] steam at it (with a good water recovery system.)

      2. And a six-foot tunnel would *especially* not be big enough for second-generation colonists (should that even be possible without disastrous consequences).

  3. Some people were saying that BFR would leverage existing facilities, unlike the ITS which would require new ones. It looks like the decision to go with BFR was driven by considerations other than just production facilities.

    Boca Chica makes sense because of the commercial nature of BFR. NASA facilities don’t work well for doing your own thing. But if SpaceX wants to dramatically ramp up F9 launches, the might need another pad at Boca Chica. So eventually, several new pads and production facilities. The last time I looked at the site, it didn’t look like there was much room to expand.

  4. I’ve seen people talking about how the BFR will make it easier to construct things in space but being able to return 50 tons of material mined in space is also a game changer.

  5. The launch sites issue seems to suggest the F9/FH will not go away soon (be replaced by BFR) and will continue to be a cash cow for them

    The other news is very positive and inline with a faster pace than others imagine. That Musk isn’t working on a planned community is a very good thing in my mind.

    This is why Bruce Lee was such a great fighter. He didn’t fight in a rigid way that was almost universal with other martial artists. SpaceX is the Bruce Lee of mars (but hopefully avoiding any mysterious death?)

  6. Messing around with the numbers provided in that link the other day provided some interesting scenarios. How many times the passenger ship and interplanetary cargo ship can be reused and how much profit SpaceX wants to make on every launch drives a lot of the interest.

    I don’t think the numbers are quite as rosy as we might hope but the opportunity cost of a year of SLS/Orion vs BFR are still astounding even if the price of a ride to Mars is still out of reach for nearly all humans.

  7. Correction, a pseudo-private company in China wants to copy Space X. The CCP will subsidise this company to beyond the max to crush Space X and Blue Origin. Domination and knocking the USA out of the international box is more important to them than mere profit.

    1. Xeno’s paradox comes to mind. 5 to 15 years to get the technology SpaceX has today… then more catch up to where SpaceX will be… followed by more catch up… followed by…

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