Two weeks after SpaceX founder Elon Musk updated his vision for a monster rocket designed to take settlers to the moon and Mars, he’s due to take questions from his fans this weekend during a Reddit “Ask Me Anything” session.
The precise coordinates for the chat depend on Musk’s schedule, but the Reddit’s SpaceX forum is sure to have the definitive word when it comes.
In the meantime, SpaceX President Gwynne Shotwell provided further details on Wednesday at a forum presented by the Stanford Student Space Initiative, with venture capital guru (and SpaceX board member) Steve Jurvetson hosting a Q&A.
SpaceX’s BFR (“Big Falcon Rocket”) was Topic A: During last month’s International Astronautical Congress, Musk laid out a plan that would employ the BFR not only to send payloads and people to Mars, but to the moon and for point-to-point suborbital travel as well.
After the talk, Jurvetson turned to the Reddit community to capture the high points of the conversation. Here are a few snippets from Shotwell to chew over in advance of Musk’s AMA:
- The BFR would be produced at a new waterfront facility in Los Angeles, because the cost of transporting rockets from SpaceX’s Falcon 9 factory in Hawthorne, Calif., would be prohibitively high. More production sites could be built near BFR launch sites.
- SpaceX’s yet-to-be-completed launch facility near Brownsville, Texas, would be a perfect place for launching the BFR.
- The spaceship will be designed so that most people will be able to withstand the G-forces that arise during a suborbital point-to-point ride, but the experience will be “sportier” than an airplane trip.
- A subscale version of the BFR’s methane-fueled Raptor rocket engine has been tested, and a larger version is now being built.
- SpaceX’s Falcon Heavy rocket is ready for its maiden launch from Florida in a December time frame. The schedule depends on pad availability, including a shift of Falcon 9 launches from Launch Complex 39A to the repaired Launch Complex 40.
- SpaceX is pressing ahead with work to build a satellite constellation that could provide global internet access. Shotwell said the company can fund BFR development as well as the satellites, which are being developed at facilities in Redmond, Wash. — but it might take a little creative financing.