Read More: Space.com
Falcon Heavy, we hardly knew ye. SpaceX plans to eventually phase out the big rocket, which has yet to fly, as well as the Falcon 9 booster and Dragon capsule to concentrate on the Mars-colonizing BFR system, company founder and CEO Elon Musk announced Friday (Sept. 29). The move should make it possible for SpaceX to afford the BFR's development, he said. "If we can do that, then all the resources that are used for Falcon 9, Heavy and Dragon can be applied to this system," Musk said at the 68th International Astronautical Congress (IAC) in Adelaide, Australia, where he unveiled SpaceX's latest Mars-colonization architecture. "That's really fundamental." This doesn't mean that SpaceX will be focused exclusively on Mars after the BFR — a huge, reusable rocket-spaceship combo — is up and running. The new system will be flexible, and the company will therefore use it for all manner of missions, from lofting satellites to resupplying the International Space Station to cleaning up space junk. Musk also envisions the BFR (whose name is short for Big F***ing Rocket) helping humanity set up an outpost on the moon, and perhaps even ferrying people from place to place here on Earth. "Most of what people consider to be long-distance trips would be completed in less than half an hour," Musk said. Such point-to-point Earth jaunts would likely cost about as much per seat as an economy-class airplane ticket, he added in an Instagram post on Friday. SpaceX aims to launch the first BFR Mars cargo mission in 2022 and send the first people toward the Red Planet in 2024, Musk said during his IAC talk. But that doesn't necessarily mean all of the company's old-guard gear will be grounded by then.