During an AMA (Ask Me Anything) session on microblogging site Reddit, Elon Musk, the CEO and founder of SpaceX, revealed several pieces of information regarding his dream project — the Big Falcon Rocket, which has also been named the Big Fxxking Rocket by Musk himself, more popularly known as BFR.
The main focus of the Q&A session on the social media site was the Interplanetary Transport System, which involves the BFR. This is the same system, which as per Musk's recent proposal, would be used to fly people across the globe at a lightning speed along with taking astronauts to Mars and moon. "If we're building this thing to go to the moon and Mars, why not go other places as well?" Musk had said during his speech at the International Astronautical Congress in Adelaide, Australia in September.
While responding to the query regarding what rations and other materials will be sent with the early colonists to the Mars, Elon Musk said that the idea to populate Mars will be quite akin to that of building a transcontinental railway.
"Our goal is to get you there and ensure the basic infrastructure for propellant production and survival is in place. A rough analogy is that we are trying to build the equivalent of the transcontinental railway. A vast amount of industry will need to be built on Mars by many other companies and millions of people," he said on Reddit.
As another user asked about the various changes that have been made to the rocket since 2016, Musk said replied that he wanted to get "best mass ratio" and that "the propellant tanks need to be cylindrical to be remotely mass efficient and they have to carry ascent load, so lowest mass solution is just to mount the heat shield plates directly to the tank wall."
When a Redddit user queried about the Raptor (a family of rockets being developed by SpaceX which includes Falcon 9), Musk replied, "Some parts of Raptor will be (3D) printed, but most of it will be machined forgings. We developed a new metal alloy for the oxygen pump that has both high strength at high temperature and won't burn."
In a rather quirky way, on being asked why the Raptor's thrust was reduced from ~300 tons-force to ~170 tons-force, Elon Musk quickly replied that they "chickened out."
"The engine thrust dropped roughly in proportion to the vehicle mass reduction from the first IAC (International Astronautical Congress 2016) talk. In order to be able to land the BF Ship with an engine failure at the worst possible moment, you have to have multiple engines. By the way, we modified the BFS design since IAC to add a third medium area ratio Raptor engine partly for that reason (lose only 1/3 thrust in engine out) and allow landings with higher payload mass for the Earth to Earth transport function," he added.
Musk is well known for his quirks and wits and here it was no different. He promised some users to fulfill the wishes of providing "rocket porn". Moreover, when a Reddit user doubted that it won't be possible to land on Moon using 3 Mega Newton engine, Musk jokingly wrote, "Yes, you can. - Bob, the Builder."