SpaceX’s future massive rocket, the Big Falcon Rocket (BFR), has a new name. Writing from his personal Twitter account, CEO Elon Musk said that the transportation portion of the craft, currently known as the Big Falcon Spaceship (BFS), will now be called Starship, while the booster portion (the bit with the actual rockets) will be called Super Heavy.
Plans for the 387-foot Big Falcon Rocket were officially revealed back in September. Eventually, the company hopes that it will replace the company’s existing Falcon 9, Falcon Heavy, and Dragon rockets. The craft is currently being developed at the Port of Los Angeles, at an expected cost of $5 billion and will be capable of taking up to 100 tons of cargo or 100 passengers as far as Mars.
SpaceX president Gwynne Shotwell said the company hopes to start doing unmanned launch tests of the new rocket in late 2019. If all goes well, Musk believes that this could be followed by an initial unmanned flight to Mars in 2022 with a manned flight taking place as early as 2024. A mission to fly around the moon with a private passenger on board is planned for 2023. However, given that the Falcon Heavy took nearly twice as long to complete as expected, and that only five percent of SpaceX’s resources are currently spent on the Starship, it’s best to view these plans as an aspiration.
As one Twitter user pointed out, calling the BFS a starship is technically inaccurate unless the craft is sent on a mission to another star system. Musk quickly responded that later versions of the Starship will be capable of doing so, although he has previously said that the craft is intended as an “interplanetary transport system” capable of travelling to “anywhere in the Solar System.”