Despite often referencing his aim to reach Mars within a few years, SpaceX founder Elon Musk has shown little hardware for the massive rocket to send humans to the red planet.
Musk shared a photo of the "main body tool" – essentially a large manufacturing mold to weave the carbon fiber that will comprise the upper stage of the rocket. The photo shows the body tool in nondescript tent with a Tesla Model 3 in the foreground. The tent is believed to be on an 18-acre plot at the Port of Los Angeles, which was recently connected with SpaceX as a "start-of-the-art" factory to produce the behemoth rocket.
Big Falcon Rocket, or BFR, is the flagship for the SpaceX vision of creating a permanent, self-sustaining human presence on Mars – and yes, the name connotes more than just "Falcon" to those inside SpaceX. The company released detailed plans in September about the BFR program to send cargo to Mars by 2022 and people by 2024.
Two years ago Musk showed a photo of BFR's fuel tank, capable of holding "1200 tons of liquid oxygen," as a part of SpaceX's early announcements about the rocket. But little had been seen since then, aside from Musk's update to the Mars
Source: Elon Musk's "Making Life Multi-Planetary" presentation at the 68th International Astronautical Congress.
Fresh off the launch of Falcon Heavy – which can lift nearly three times as much as the next largest rockets in operation – Musk is touting BFR as on track to begin testing "short trips" by the "first half of next year."
While Falcon Heavy stands at more than 21 stories tall, BFR would dwarf that at 32 stories.
Despite Musk's aggressive timeline, he admitted last month that he can elevate expectations too much. Falcon Heavy was first unveiled in 2011 with the promise of an inaugural launch by 2013. But the rocket didn't fly until early 2018, after many delays in development.
"Sometimes, my timelines are a little, you know..." Musk said.