In Brief

Elon Musk’s SpaceX to send rocket to Mars by 2022

New ‘BFR’ vehicle could also take passengers anywhere on Earth ‘in under an hour’

Elon Musk has announced plans to build a new rocket at his aerospace firm SpaceX that will make humanity a “multi-planetary species”. 

Speaking at the International Astronautical Congress in Adelaide, Australia, the South African-born billionaire said the company wants to move “all the resources” it uses on its three existing vehicles towards building a single rocket that can be sent on multiple missions.

The new rocket, codenamed ‘BFR’ (‘Big F***ing Rocket’), will be used for “a cargo mission” to Mars in 2022, says The New York Times, with passenger flights expected two years after that.

“By that stage, they plan to be able to build a plant on the surface of Mars that would be able to synthesise fuel for return journeys back from Mars,” reports The Guardian

The BFR could also be used for trips on Earth, the newspaper says, taking passengers anywhere on the planet “in under an hour.”

“If you build a ship that’s capable of going to Mars, what if you take that same ship and go from one place to another on Earth?” Musk asked. 

The billionaire said passengers could travel from New York to Shanghai in 39 minutes.

SpaceX has focused on building reusable rockets since its inception in 2007, with the aim of cutting down production and servicing costs of vehicles to make space flight more manageable. 

Last month, the company launched a secret military shuttle into orbit that the US Air Force says will help develop “reusable” rockets.

However, Alphr says “it doesn’t take a large stretch of the imagination to guess that the US is also testing surveillance technologies”.

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