American super-rocket BFR: too good to be true


Swung to Leadership


SpaceX has long been unrepresentative. It was she who was the first in history to be able to create a partially reusable space launch vehicle. And not just create, but plant and restart. Behind the spectacular video of the return of the first stage of the Falcon 9 was the work of thousands of talented engineers. But ordinary pragmatism was also hiding: Musk built a relatively simple, relatively cheap and quite reliable rocket, which became the most popular launch vehicle on the market. Even without taking into account the reusable stage, she would probably be in the top, which was promoted as much as possible economical an approach.

In turn, first launched this year, the new Falcon Heavy is a super-heavy carrier. In fact, it represents several “nine” that are woven into a single whole. That is, Falcon Heavy can, with some reservations, be called another version of the previous SpaceX launch vehicle. The real revolution should be the new Big Falcon Rocket, which is also sometimes sometimes jokingly or seriously called Big Fucking Rocket. The latter reveals the essence well: before us is not just the most ambitious creation of SpaceX, but also the largest space-rocket system that has ever existed. It is significantly larger than the largest Saturn-5 rocket in the history of mankind, which the Americans used to launch the Apollo spacecraft to the moon.


A person uninitiated in all the intricacies of the project of Ilon Mask could get a little confused, because his new system has already changed its name and appearance several times. For the first time, Musk presented the details of the Interplanetary Transport System project on September 27, 2016 at the 67th International Congress on Astronautics in Mexican Guadalajara. It was then a two-stage system with a length of 122 and a diameter of twelve meters. The first stage is a reusable launch vehicle, and the second is the spacecraft itself, which, according to the idea, can accommodate more than a hundred people. At the heart of all this is the new powerful Raptor methane engine: they plan to install it both on the first stage and on the ship.

Later, the Interplanetary Transport System transformed into the already mentioned Big Falcon Rocket. The main purely visual difference - the spacecraft and the rocket “lost weight” and began to look less impressive. The diameter was reduced to nine meters, so now the BFR is more like ordinary superheavy missiles. The goals of the system, in general, also changed somewhat. If at first the system was seen as a means for the colonization of Mars and even the resettlement of a million people to the Red Planet, then Elon Musk voiced the idea of ​​a “lean startup”. It involves combining in one rocket of technologies launch into low Earth orbit, other planets of the solar system, as well as the possibility of intercontinental flights within the Earth. Another goal is relatively modest. The fact is that earlier SpaceX intended to launch tourists to the moon with the help of Falcon Heavy and the manned spacecraft Dragon. Now this mission fell on the shoulders of the BFR. Recently, the company even found the first tourist for such a trip. From the side, a system with such a wide functionality looks too ambitious. Upon closer inspection, everything seems even more surprising.


(Not) empty promises

The project does not stand still. SpaceX previously tested the Raptor engine, showed the fuel tank of the ship, as well as a photograph of a giant rig for the manufacture of the body of a superheavy launch vehicle Big Falcon Rocket. Critics, however, are difficult to convince in the expediency of the undertaking. So, the scientific director of the Aerospace Rally System project and the developer of rocket plans Gennady Malyshev doubts that now there are "people who need to fly from New York to Shanghai in an hour." In his opinion, today it is possible to work without problems on the way, on trains and airplanes, without wasting time, so nobody (or almost nobody) will buy a ticket for the Ilona Mask rocket. Part of the Russian-language media, accustomed to calling Mask “Ostap Bender of the XNUMXst Century,” generally considers the venture an ordinary PR. Actually, they would not have to doubt their innocence if Musk did not prove (even partially) his words by deed.


What are the real problems facing Big Falcon Rocket? In short, it is not entirely clear why it is needed at all. Purely conceptually, the BFR looks like a ghost from the Cold War. A kind of modern reincarnation of the Burana or Space Shuttle. Recall, then these ships were built, including for military purposes. And after the confrontation between the USSR and the States, they, being expensive and complex, were ultimately simply not in demand. SpaceX cannot understand this. After all, this company is the best in the world when it comes to the space industry, according to finance. Falcon 9 is now one of the most affordable heavy class missiles. The Dragon spacecraft created by the Mask engineers is also the embodiment of economy. Cheap, relatively simple, partially reusable and able to solve all the problems that now face the manned space program.

In contrast to these developments, Big Falcon Rocket looks like a complicated road and filled with unimaginable risks. After all, happen on board a serious accident in space, the entire numerous crew will be put on the brink of life and death. Unusually, Musk intends to “cannibalize” his old missiles in favor of the BFR. But Falcon 9 and Big Falcon Rocket are not just different launch vehicles, but carriers of completely different classes. There is almost no doubt that the new superheavy rocket will be more expensive than its predecessors, therefore, SpaceX risks losing its main advantage in the market.

It is worth saying that no one succeeded in making a cheap superheavy carrier: due to the huge number of components, assemblies and the need to service many engines at once. Musk himself in February 2018 announced that the cost of launching an expendable version of the Falcon Heavy is $ 150 million. At the same time, the launch price for the Falcon 9 is 62 million. Big Falcon Rocket is significantly larger and more than a third more powerful than Falcon Heavy. What kind of savings can be discussed is not clear. In this regard, the only real commercial advantage of BFR is the “rod” design, in which the number of missile components, as in the case of the Falcon 9, is minimized. But this alone does not make it economical. It is worth recalling that only on the first stage of the BFR will a 31 (!) Sustainer engine be installed: versus nine on the Falcon 9. Even if they successfully return to Earth, they will eat an incredible amount of fuel.


Of course, it can be assumed that a new rocket will be needed to put heavier commercial cargoes into orbit. But there is simply no such need. All commercial satellites successfully launch more light rockets - the same Falcon 9. Again, even Falcon Heavy has only four commercial orders, two of which are closely related to secret missions for the US Air Force, which, as you might guess, cannot be many and for which the military can even fork out for the promising Space Launch System rocket.

In general, it seems that Musk is coming up with not only new missiles, but also new rules of the game that do not yet exist on the market. Believe it or not - this is an individual matter for everyone.
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  • Photos used: https://www.nasaspaceflight.com
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  1. Pacifist Offline Pacifist
    Pacifist (Victor) 10 October 2018 09: 50
    +2
    Even without taking into account the reusable stage, she would probably be in the top, which was facilitated by the most economical approach.

    As well as a secret, free transfer of technical documentation by NASA, hidden government funding, pressure on the launch clientele from US government agencies. In general, everything is fair and market-oriented.
    1. Vkd dvk Offline Vkd dvk
      Vkd dvk (Victor) 10 October 2018 17: 15
      +2
      Quote: Pacifist
      Even without taking into account the reusable stage, she would probably be in the top, which was facilitated by the most economical approach.

      As well as a secret, free transfer of technical documentation by NASA, hidden government funding, pressure on the launch clientele from US government agencies. In general, everything is fair and market-oriented.

      THIS is where the "cheapness" of his Falcon lies. Much indebted to NASA, Musk, for billions of dollars in aid, is FORCED to sell launches not for what he wants, but for what he is given.
  2. NordUral Offline NordUral
    NordUral (Eugene) 10 October 2018 10: 56
    +2
    I looked at the novelty, on the right there is a "five", it seems like it was taking crews to the moon. And I thought - this is either a development for the war, or a bluff like Saturn-5.
  3. maratkoRuEkb Offline maratkoRuEkb
    maratkoRuEkb (Marat) 10 October 2018 11: 36
    +2
    Musk built a relatively simple, relatively cheap and quite reliable rocket, which became the most popular launch vehicle on the market.

    He didn’t build anything, he’s not an engineer, he’s just a PR man. It is used as a screen no more ...
  4. DimerVladimer Offline DimerVladimer
    DimerVladimer (Dmitry Vladimirovich) 10 October 2018 13: 17
    0
    Behind the spectacular video of the return of the first stage of the Falcon 9 was the work of thousands of talented engineers.

    The number of employees was constantly growing - from 160 in November 2005 to more than 4000 people by July 2015. A small number of employees, compared with other companies launching rockets of this class, is associated with the desire to reduce the cost of launches as much as possible. This is from the release of the company itself.

    It should be noted that the engineering staff for a thousand exceeded not so long ago - that is, SpaXX is a very effective company.
  5. Vkd dvk Offline Vkd dvk
    Vkd dvk (Victor) 10 October 2018 17: 13
    +3
    The author went crazy back in Soviet times. He confuses achievements with plans.
    Writing about Dragons as a fait accompli can only be outright liar. Launch fifty of their Falcons, land two dozen and reuse (?????) use as many as five pieces.
    Musk is a card cheater. Only a sharpie raises bets all the time, forgetting about his early promises. Only a sharpie is knocking down his interlocutors with promises to get the moon now, without launching a single passenger ship.
  6. gridasov Offline gridasov
    gridasov 11 October 2018 07: 45
    +1
    Mass stupidity is amazing. Without engines, and, in principle, theories and methods of reducing the proportionality of the growth of weight and fuel volume. With an increase in the potential for engine efficiency, the future can be forgotten. Children can also draw pictures in the kindergarten. Serious work on flying in outer space will begin when a completely new concept of the conversion of energy of matter is realized.
  7. nemoXX Offline nemoXX
    nemoXX 21 March 2020 19: 12
    0
    The critics of Mask have weird logic! When they need to prove that

    Musk will never fly to the moon and Mars.

    - talk about the inadequate capabilities of Falcon-9.
    When it is necessary to prove that BFR is "wrong" - they scold it for being unnecessary and costly.
    Falcon and Dragon are successful and in demand, as we were informed above.
    "Super-heavy" has a task not so much to save as to achieve what the "potential opponents" of the Mask - clearly too tough: reaching the Moon and Mars.
    I don’t think Musk or anyone will send a million people there. You don’t even need to send 100 people.
    But to send 10 people, in abundance equipped with everything necessary - the maximum guarantee of success!
    And not just "fly into space", but finally "fly" somewhere - an extremely important and extremely necessary task.
    It will not be possible to solve this problem with near-Earth "economy" and Protons.
    And the "economists" who have lagged behind in the exploration of the Moon and Mars will lag behind forever.
  8. aleksandrmakedo Offline aleksandrmakedo
    aleksandrmakedo (Dubovitsky Victor Kuzmich) April 26 2020 15: 07
    +2
    Quote: nemoXX
    The critics of Mask have weird logic! When they need to prove that

    Musk will never fly to the moon and Mars.

    - talk about the inadequate capabilities of Falcon-9.
    When it is necessary to prove that BFR is "wrong" - they scold it for being unnecessary and costly.
    Falcon and Dragon are successful and in demand, as we were informed above.
    "Super-heavy" has a task not so much to save as to achieve what the "potential opponents" of the Mask - clearly too tough: reaching the Moon and Mars.
    I don’t think Musk or anyone will send a million people there. You don’t even need to send 100 people.
    But to send 10 people, in abundance equipped with everything necessary - the maximum guarantee of success!
    And not just "fly into space", but finally "fly" somewhere - an extremely important and extremely necessary task.
    It will not be possible to solve this problem with near-Earth "economy" and Protons.
    And the "economists" who have lagged behind in the exploration of the Moon and Mars will lag behind forever.

    Not lagging behind. Pragmatically thinking.
    Unlike a sharpie, pumping billions out of the budget.
    Reusability promised at Falcon-1. Of less than a hundred launches, three dozen repetitions, but where are the promises - 10 launches each, with a 24-hour inspection period? Promises to launch to the Moon Dragon-1, Dragon-2. Starts with crews. Where are they? Mars exploration program. Selling tickets. Colony on Mars. Salvage flows in a river. Believe.


    A spacesuit for flying to Mars. In an environment thousands of times more susceptible to cosmic radiation, without the protection of the Earth, its magnetic field and the mass itself, which shields from radiation. Believe?
    KNOW that half-corpses that have received half the permissible dose will fly to Mars. Surface of mars. Not covered by a magnetic field. Half a year there, that's all. No return ticket needed. One hundred percent guarantee, there is jelly from people. Radiation sickness, not counting all other harmful conditions. Atmospheric pressure 10% of Earth. Accidental cut of a spacesuit and decompression sickness. At this pressure, the blood boils at body temperature. Will not have time to suffocate. The guts come out through the mouth. Fly, master.