SpaceX‘s Falcon Heavy and Falcon 9 systems have been lauded for their historic achievements over the past few years, having broken numerous world records. In 2018, the corporation broke a world record—set by itself the previous year—for most orbital rocket launches by a single company in a year.
Now, the company has revealed its plans to take space exploration to the next level.
By 2021, the company is hoping to debut commercial services for its Starship system, a “next-generation, fully reusable” rocket.
“You want to wake up in the morning and think the future is going to be great, and that’s what being a spacefaring civilization is all about,” CEO and founder Elon Musk said at the International Astronautical Congress in 2017, as reported by CNBC. “It’s about believing in the future and thinking that the future will be better than the past. And I can’t think of anything more exciting than going out there and being among the stars.”
Over the past decade, SpaceX has gradually refined and improved its ability to reuse its technology. According to Inverse, the company went from failing to land even one Falcon 9 mission in 2013 to successfully landing all 15 attempts in 2017. SpaceX is aiming to be able to reuse the same Falcon 9 five times; currently, the company’s record is three launches with the same rocket.
Starship, which was originally debuted as the “Big Falcon Rocket” (BFR), will eventually replace all of SpaceX’s current rockets. It will be more powerful than the Falcon Heavy and completely reusable, designed to eventually facilitate the first manned missions to Mars. The rocket’s engines will used methane and liquid oxygen as fuel with the goal of establishing fuel depots on Mars to return home or travel even further throughout the solar system.
“If one can figure out how to effectively reuse rockets just like airplanes, the cost of access to space will be reduced by as much as a factor of a hundred,” Elon stated in an article on the company’s website. “A fully reusable vehicle has never been done before. That really is the fundamental breakthrough needed to revolutionize access to space.”
Jonathan Hofeller, SpaceX’s vice president of commercial sales, revealed that the aerospace manufacturer and space transport company is already speaking to prospective customers for Starship’s first commercial launch.
“The goal is to get orbital as quickly as possible, potentially even this year, with the full stack operational by the end of next year and then customers in early 2021,” said Jonathan Hofeller, SpaceX vice president of commercial sales, as reported by SpaceNews.
Two separate SpaceX facilities—one in Texas and one in Florida—are currently working on the Starship system to see which team can execute the better solution first.
The company aims to eventually create a city on Mars, which Elon believes may happen as early as 2050.
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