Elon Musk, the billionaire founder of SpaceX, has presented an updated plan for colonizing Mars with 1 million people.
The International Astronautical Congress in Adelaide, Australia, hosted Musk’s presentation on Friday, and SpaceX streamed video of the event via a YouTube Live feed. (You can replay the 42-minute talk here.)
Musk tweeted on Monday that he’d unveil “major improvements” and “unexpected applications” in the talk, which is an update to his one-hour presentation at last year’s IAC in Guadalajara, Mexico — where he revealed his initial plans to build gigantic ships to reach Mars.
“The future is vastly more interesting and exciting if we’re a space-faring civilization and a multiplanet species than if we’re not,” Musk said on Friday. “I can’t think of anything more exciting than going out there among the stars.”
Musk said lower cost was the biggest update
“I think the most important thing I’m going to convey in this presentation is that I think we’ve figured out how to pay for it,” he said, referring to the launch system.
Musk previously called it the Interplanetary Transport System, but this year he readopted an older name: the BFR, which is short for “Big F—ing Rocket.”
“We’re still sort of searching for the right name,” he added.
Musk said the goal of the BFR was to “cannibalize” and replace all of SpaceX’s existing launch and spaceflight systems, including its 229-foot-tall Falcon 9 rocket, the coming Falcon Heavy rocket, and Dragon (its spaceship for NASA).
“If we can do that, then all the resources that are used on Falcon 9, Heavy, and Dragon … can be applied to this system,” he said.
SpaceX is actively building and testing parts of the BFR
Earlier this year, SpaceX built a 39-foot-tall fuel tank for the spaceship made out of carbon fiber.
Engineers then put it on a barge, towed it into the ocean, and pressure-tested it to see whether it could handle the strain of holding 1,200 tons of liquid oxygen.
The test was successful — but Musk said they pushed it as far as it could go to see when it’d burst.
“It shot about 300 feet into the air and landed in the ocean. Then we fished it out,” Musk said.
He added that a working carbon-fiber tank — the core of the BFR spaceship — is essential to keeping the spacecraft lightweight and efficient.
Musk also recapped SpaceX’s progress on its giant Raptor rocket engines.