SpaceX's founder, Elon Musk, says that even he was surprised by how successful the first flight of his company's Falcon Heavy rocket turned out to be and that his confidence about building an even bigger rocket could someday send settlers to Mars.
Elon Musk said at a press event that SpaceX will now begin focusing in earnest on "BFR"; the codename for its next big space launch vehicle. BFR – aka "big fucking rocket" – will be designed to be a vehicle capable of using a single stage to make it all the way to orbit, with fully loaded tanks. Musk was gratified by the performance of the Falcon Heavy's triple-barrelled booster, created by joining together a modified Falcon 9 rocket core with two previously used cores. The two flight-tested cores made synchronised landings after separating from the centre core, and the centre core narrowly missed executing an at-sea landing.
Within three or four years, the BFR spaceship could start making trips in low Earth orbit, and within a decade or so, it just might offer regular passenger service to Mars.
"Falcon Heavy opens up a new class of payload. It can launch more than twice as much payload as any other rocket in the world, so it’s kind of up to customers what they might want to launch," Musk said. "It can launch things directly to Pluto and beyond. … It can launch giant satellites, it can do anything you want. You could send people back to the moon if you did a bunch of launches of Falcon Heavy and did orbital refilling."
The success of the Falcon Heavy launch and the rise of the BFR could spark more innovation elsewhere in the space industry, Musk added.
"I think it’s going to encourage other countries and companies to raise their sights and say, ‘Hey, we can do bigger and better,'" he said. "Which is great. We want a new space race. Races are exciting."
You can have a look at the press conference below.