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Elon Musk looks beyond Falcon Heavy triumph

Elon Musk
SpaceX CEO Elon Musk meets the press at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center. (GeekWire Photo / Alan Boyle)

CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. — SpaceX’s billionaire 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 it boosted his confidence about building an even bigger rocket ship that could someday send settlers to Mars.

“It’s surreal to me,” Musk admitted tonight during a post-launch news conference at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center, which provided the base of operations for today’s test flight.

Musk said half-jokingly that he had visions of a catastrophic failure. “I had this image of a giant explosion on the pad, a wheel bouncing down the road and a Tesla logo landing somewhere,” he told reporters. “But fortunately, that’s not what happened.”

Instead, SpaceX provided the first demonstration of what is now the world’s most powerful rocket in operation, and created a viral sensation by sending a Tesla Roadster sports car into a long, looping orbit that will go out beyond the orbit of Mars, with the driver’s seat occupied by a “Starman” mannequin wearing a standard-issue SpaceX spacesuit.

“It taught me, like, crazy things can come true,” Musk said.

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Elon Musk geeks out over his Big Falcon Rocket

BFR talk by Elon Musk
SpaceX founder Elon Musk discusses his plan to build a “Big Falcon Spaceship” at the International Astronautical Congress in Australia. Musk followed up with an “Ask Me Anything” chat on Reddit. (SpaceX via YouTube)

SpaceX CEO says he “chickened out” and made the design for the monster spaceship he’s planning to send to Mars a little less monstrous — in order to make the concept a lot more realistic.

He also confirmed that testing for the BFR, euphemistically known as the “Big Falcon Rocket,” would begin with suborbital short-hop tests on Earth.

Musk’s frank talk came today during an “Ask Me Anything” chat session conductedon Reddit’s space forum. More than 10,000 comments streamed in during the session, which Musk had promised to hold in the wake of September’s unveiling of the latest BFR concept at the International Astronautical Congress in Australia.

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Elon Musk gets set for a big rocket chat with fans

BFR launch
Artwork shows SpaceX’s BFR launch vehicle blasting off from a floating pad. (SpaceX via YouTube)

Two weeks after SpaceX founder Elon Musk updated his vision for a monster rocket designed to take settlers to the moon and Mars, he’s due to take questions from his fans this weekend during a Reddit “Ask Me Anything” session.

The precise coordinates for the chat depend on Musk’s schedule, but the Reddit’s SpaceX forum is sure to have the definitive word when it comes.

In the meantime, SpaceX President Gwynne Shotwell provided further details on Oct. 11 at a forum presented by the Stanford Student Space Initiative, with venture capital guru (and SpaceX board member) Steve Jurvetson hosting a Q&A.

SpaceX’s BFR (“Big Falcon Rocket”) was Topic A.

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Sizing up Elon Musk’s big bet on a big rocket

BFR at space station
An artist’s conception shows SpaceX’s BFR super-rocket docked to the International Space Station. (SpaceX Illustration)

SpaceX founder Elon Musk’s rocket roadmap just got much bigger than Mars. Now the question is, who else will follow the map?

The first answers to that question may well start emerging next week, when government officials and space industry leaders — almost certainly including a SpaceX representative — come together for the first meeting of the White House’s National Space Council.

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Elon Musk geeks out over his Mars plan on Reddit

Mars rocket
An artist’s conception shows SpaceX’s Interplanetary Transport System lifting off with a refueling tanker sitting beside it. (Credit: SpaceX)

In the weeks ahead, SpaceX plans to pressure-test a prototype carbon fiber tank on an oceangoing barge, to gauge how well the technology will stand up to the oomph that’d be required for trips to Mars.

The test is one of the near-term steps that SpaceX founder Elon Musk laid out today during an “Ask Me Anything” session on Reddit’s SpaceX discussion forum, focusing on his long-term plan to transport a million settlers to Mars.

Musk signed on to the AMA session to follow up into some of the geeky questions raised by last month’s big reveal about SpaceX’s Interplanetary Transport System. Which, by the way, Musk is not happy with as a name.

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Reality check on Elon Musk’s plan to go to Mars

View of Mars
An artist’s conception shows a traveler looking out at Mars through the window of SpaceX’s future passenger spaceship. (Credit: SpaceX)

GUADALAJARA, Mexico – In order to make the figures work for Elon Musk’s plan to put settlers on Mars, SpaceX will have to build boosters and interplanetary spaceships for less than the price of a Boeing 777x jet, on a shorter time frame.

What’s more, Musk is aiming to ramp up to building 1,000 of those spaceships. That’s three times the number of 777x orders to date.

The comparisons between Boeing’s next airplane and SpaceX’s ultimate spaceship suggest Musk is overly optimistic about what it’ll take to get a million settlers to Mars by the end of the century.

So what else is new?

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Elon Musk makes the big pitch for Mars settlement

Elon Musk
SpaceX founder Elon Musk presents his vision for sending settlers to Mars. (Credit: SpaceX)

GUADALAJARA, Mexico – SpaceX CEO Elon Musk has made some ambitious sales pitches in his career, but today’s big reveal about his plan to transport a million settlers to Mars over the next few decades has to be the topper.

The billionaire began his 95-minute talk with the existential concern over Earth’s long-term future, and the need to set up a civilization beyond Earth to safeguard the species.

“I hope you’d agree this is the right way to go. Yes? … That’s what we want,” he told a crowd of 3,000 attendees at the International Astronautical Congress in Guadalajara.

From there on, Musk laid out a step-by-step blueprint that culminated in a vision of a totally reusable super-spaceship that could transport 100 to 200 passengers and their luggage to the Red Planet.

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Elon Musk tweets sneak peeks at Mars plan

SpaceX Raptor engine test
SpaceX’s Raptor rocket engine undergoes its first test firing. (Credit: Elon Musk via Twitter)

GUADALAJARA, Mexico – In advance of this week’s big reveal, SpaceX’s billionaire founder, Elon Musk, is dropping hints about the scale of his plans to send colonists to Mars.

Musk is scheduled to talk about what used to be known as the Mars Colonial Transporter in Guadalajara on Sept. 27 at the International Astronautical Congress.

The “late-breaking news” begins at 11:30 a.m. PT (1:30 p.m. CT) Sept. 27. Streaming video of the talk should be available via SpaceX and YouTube as well as via the IAC and Livestream.

Musk has been building up to this presentation for months, arguably for more than a year. It’s the highlight of this year’s annual conference. Although he’s been coy about the details, Musk has let some hints slip out – for example, that the rocket should be capable of sending 100 tons of payload to Mars, or 100 passengers.

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