back to article Are you Falcon sure, Elon? Musk vows Big Rocket will go up 2019

SpaceX and Tesla chief Elon Musk assured the audience at Austin, Texas media 'n' tech megafest South by Southwest last night that his big rocket would fly next year. Possibly referring to the multi-year delay in the flight of SpaceX's Falcon Heavy and pretty much every other rocket launched by the upstart, or maybe Tesla's …

  1. Aladdin Sane Silver badge

    titanic tube of thrust

    Giggity

  2. wolfetone Silver badge

    "Musk boasted of the capabilities of his new lifter, which would have "lift-off thrust about twice that of a Saturn V" and able to fling "150 metric tons to orbit and be fully reusable"."

    But how does it compare to the Energia rocket?

    1. 1Rafayal

      According to good old Wikipedia, the Energia was apparently able to loft 110 tons to LEO.

      I didnt think it had flown more than once, but apparently it took both the Buran and Poylus into orbit.

      1. cray74

        I didnt think it had flown more than once, but apparently it took both the Buran and Poylus into orbit.

        I was going to correct the Polyus part but, no, Energia did its job of putting Polyus into an elliptical orbit. This wouldn't have lasted long since the perigee was in the atmosphere, but it was a course with orbital velocity achieved and a pretty standard flight path - the shuttle also initially entered such an elliptical orbit and then performed one or two injection burns.

        After Energia was done with its part, Polyus's attempted circularization burn was actually a de-orbit burn. Polyus was launched upside down in its cargo fairing for structural (?) reasons and had to rotate 180 degrees before firing its engine. The IT angle for El Reg readers is that a software goof resulted in Polyus rotating 360 degrees and firing its engine in exactly the wrong direction.

        1. Simon Harris Silver badge
        2. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          "...had to rotate 180 degrees....software goof....360 degrees..."

          I've recently seen evidence on YouTube that there are quite a few people standing around on their hind legs that don't clearly distinguish, in their muddled minds, the significant difference between 180° and 360°. Twice over the past weekend I've seen this. I gasped at the first example (I notice these things), and was astounded to see a second example so quickly. One was related to cars spinning around, the other related to the oscillation of a balance wheel in a fine wristwatch.

          1. John H Woods Silver badge

            Re: "...had to rotate 180 degrees....software goof....360 degrees..."

            Yes... Dimmer critics of the Xbox 360 used to say it got its name from prospective customers turning around and walking away.

            Anyone know if the said software goof was in degrees or radians (pi/tau confusion) ? ☺

            1. DropBear Silver badge

              Re: "...had to rotate 180 degrees....software goof....360 degrees..."

              Actually, the number of degrees seems to be of no significance - this is not the mistake you're thinking of. Rather it looks like reuse of the value of a constant in the software, which caused the attitude control thrusters to do nothing at all:

              "...the timing control device gave the logical block a command to discard the side modules' covers and laser exhaust covers. Unknowingly, the same command was earlier used to open the solar panels and disengage the maneuvering thrusters. This wasn't discovered because of the logistics of the testing process and overall haste. Main thrusters engaged while the Skif kept turning, overshooting the intended 180-degree turn."

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Best byline ever

        "By Richard Speed 12 Mar 2018 at 10:56"

        Well done Mr Speed.

    2. cray74

      But how does it compare to the Energia rocket?

      The two flown Energia rockets had 6.5 million pounds of thrust at takeoff, with a capability of putting 100 tons into low Earth orbit. The Saturn V had 7.8 million pounds of thrust at takeoff, with a capability of putting 130 tons into LEO.

      So, as the BFR is about twice a Saturn V, it's about 2.6x an Energia. Approximately, give or take a bit.

      There were some planned Energia configurations with higher takeoff masses and thrust levels, but those didn't get off the drawing board.

      1. Voland's right hand Silver badge

        There were some planned Energia configurations with higher takeoff masses and thrust levels, but those didn't get off the drawing board.

        Some of the designs were for reusable components with horizontal (aircraft style) landing of the boosters.

        Energia ended up being flown at the wrong time - 30 odd years ahead of its time. Taking off today, instead of 30 years ago would have made things much more interesting in terms of "space-race".

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      The Energia could deliver 100,000 kg to LEO whereas the BFR is planned to be able to deliver 150,000 kg to the same orbit. The BFR will be a bit bigger.

      1. annodomini2

        The Energia could deliver 100,000 kg to LEO whereas the BFR is planned to be able to deliver 150,000 kg to the same orbit. The BFR will be a bit bigger.

        BFR 150,000 kg re-usable, 300,000kg expendable, possibly more.

        It's considerably bigger.

    4. Faux Science Slayer

      "Perplexing Apollo Questions for NASA" at FauxScienceSlayer

      It is virtual certain that lunar landing photos, films were Earth staged fakes. Saturn V InfoGraphic

      shows the lunar landing logistic anomalies that question the "giant leap" narrative.

      "Military Top Secret Hollywood Film Studio" at > TruthStreamMedia website

      We have been systematically lied to about everything....forever....

      1. onefang Silver badge

        Re: "Perplexing Apollo Questions for NASA" at FauxScienceSlayer

        I'm curious to know, has Faux Science Slayer ever gotten an up vote? Or has s/he/it slayed all the other faux scientists?

    5. DrMordrid

      BFR v Energia (thrust)

      This is the Raptor v 1.0 full-flow staged combustion (FFSC) engine with a chamber pressure of 25 MPa. This will grow to 30 MPa, the highest chamber pressure of any engine.

      It'll also be the first FFSC engine to fly. Russia and the US had develooment tests, but never flew a FFSC engine.

      Propellants: liquid methane and subcooled (66°K) liquid oxygen

      First stage thrust

      BFR: 52,000 kN

      Energia boosters: 29,000 kN

      Upper stage thrust

      BFS (Spaceship): 12,700 kN

      Energia core: 5,800 kN

  3. Pascal Monett Silver badge

    Spring is coming, the windbags are starting to blow

    Okay, Mr Musk, I know that billionaires have to be outrageously upbeat in everything they say, but you are really pushing things.

    The Saturn V already had a payload of 140 metric tons. If you're doubling the thrust and can only add 10 metric tons to that, then I don't see that you're doing all that good.

    As for self-driving cars, you're just spouting nonsense. None of them are certified for public use yet, so your percentage is meaningless. In 35 years of driving with over 1.5 million km under my wheels I have never been responsible for an accident, nor have I ever so much as brushed another human with my car. How can you be 200% safer than that ?

    Finally, we don't have AI and we won't have that for many decades yet. What we have is Machine Learning, the modern term and spiritual successor to the Expert Systems of yore. I did the Google course on ML and it's all about statistics. Statistics do not Intelligence create, and none of those ML machines can do anything else than that for which they have been configured.

    So cool it with the AI rhetoric - you're waay ahead of your time on that one.

    1. rh587

      Re: Spring is coming, the windbags are starting to blow

      Okay, Mr Musk, I know that billionaires have to be outrageously upbeat in everything they say, but you are really pushing things.

      The Saturn V already had a payload of 140 metric tons. If you're doubling the thrust and can only add 10 metric tons to that, then I don't see that you're doing all that good.

      Obvious troll is obvious. But I'll feed you a little for the benefit of others who come through these parts.

      Saturn V lifted 140tons and you threw away the rocket.

      BFR lifts 150 tons and you get the rocket back (with it's expensive engines).

      That's good.

      1. I&I

        Re: Spring is coming, the windbags are starting to blow

        Or 300 tons if expended - it seems.

        (From “For customers who care not a jot about reusability and are happy to send the remains of the rocket hurtling into the ocean, the payload to orbit would be doubled.”)

      2. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

        Re: Spring is coming, the windbags are starting to blow

        "Saturn V lifted 140tons and you threw away the rocket.

        BFR lifts 150 tons and you get the rocket back (with it's expensive engines)."

        And double that if you don't want to re-use the BFR. Also worth noting that tons <> tonnes, despite the article using the term "metric tons" which isn't really a thing, it really ought to be "metric tonnes" for redundant clarity or, preferably, just "tonnes"

    2. Flocke Kroes Silver badge

      Re: Spring is coming, the Pascal is starting to blow

      To be 200% safer than your 35 years without an accident, 1260 self driving cars must drive fully autonomous for a month with no accidents.

      AI: People have different definitions. Eliza could pass a Turing test 50 years ago - but I think that says more about humans than AS. amanfromMars is more accurate and entertaining than some commentards.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Spring is coming, the Pascal is starting to blow

        > To be 200% safer than your 35 years without an accident, 1260 self driving cars must drive fully autonomous for a month with no accidents.

        They also have to drive like normal people, not ultra-cautious grannies.

        1. onefang Silver badge

          Re: Spring is coming, the Pascal is starting to blow

          If they drive like normal people, they'd have the same amount of accidents as normal people do, and would have to be programmed to be able to do road rage, and fake drunk driving every now and then.

    3. Uffish

      Re: Spring is coming, the windbags are starting to blow

      What Mr. Musk said is that his self-driving cars would be "200 per cent safer than a person by the end of next year". I interpret that to mean that next year he will fit bloody great, cast iron bumpers (fenders) to front and back of his cars. That way, in an accident, the cars should be ok, humans not so much ok.

    4. Martin Budden

      Re: Spring is coming @ Pascal Monett

      Not round these parts it isn't: it's autumn here.

      (That's the least important mistake in your post)

  4. Mike 140

    Since 100% safer = zero accidents, WTF is 200% safer?

    1. A Non e-mouse Silver badge

      It makes babes?

    2. Duncan Macdonald Silver badge

      Depending on the definition - one reasonable way to say 200% better is :-

      Human - one accident per x miles on average

      AI - one accident per 3x miles on average

      1. Anonymous Coward Silver badge
        Coat

        "Human - one accident per x miles on average"

        I can certainly drive more than 10 miles without having an accident. Straight roads or not, it doesn't matter.

    3. Mark 85 Silver badge

      Since 100% safer = zero accidents, WTF is 200% safer?

      Depends on the driver probably and what statistics you're looking at. Some of us have never had an accident or maybe one minor fender bender in a parking lot. Others have them in abundance. Note that's just an observation in a typical parking lot. And then there's those who's cars appear to have been in a demolition derby on a regular basis..

  5. wallyhall

    All fanboi talks aside - you've got to give the guy credit. He might be optimistic, and nearly always several years behind schedule, but he does usually deliver most - if not all of what he promised.

    The number of companies I've worked for where management have had similar such optimism, and end up delivering nothing years after the original deadline and just end up binning the project (and I'm not talking about literal rocket science!) is a shocker.

    1. Charlie Clark Silver badge

      I certainly like his style, the company finances less.

      So more Musks and fewer solitionists and data-grabbers, please.

  6. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Musk really does see himself as the Saviour of Mankind

    https://www.theguardian.com/technology/2018/mar/11/elon-musk-colonise-mars-third-world-war

    "Humans must prioritise the colonisation of Mars so the species can be conserved in the event of a third world war, SpaceX and Tesla founder Elon Musk said on Sunday.

    “It’s important to get a self-sustaining base on Mars because it’s far enough away from Earth that [in the event of a war] it’s more likely to survive than a moon base,” Musk said on stage at SXSW ... “If there’s a third world war we want to make sure there’s enough of a seed of human civilisation somewhere else to bring it back and shorten the length of the dark ages,” Musk said.

    1. Peter2 Silver badge

      Re: Musk really does see himself as the Saviour of Mankind

      I don't get this. The logical way forwards seems to be to build a base/assembly point at one of the Lagrange points (L4 or L5 are the obvious choices) followed by a moon base (nice and easy to leave as well...) followed by progressing out to Mars once the tech and supply problems have been resolved.

      Going directly to Mars makes it dramatically more expensive without adding anything but publicity to the equasion and since nobody has any weaponry that will exit orbit then a moon base would be perfectly safe in WW3, especially since the military value of targeting a moon base would be zero resulting in no rationale in developing new weaponry especially to reach it. The serious danger to it would seem to be the staff starving or suffocating to death when supply convoys cease if it's not self sufficent.

      And to make it self sufficent takes lots of mass, so the closer it is the cheaper/easier it is to get the mass to it (as less fuel is required, meaning that you can send more per rocket to the moon as opposed to Mars)

      1. cray74

        Re: Musk really does see himself as the Saviour of Mankind

        The logical way forwards seems to be to build a base/assembly point at one of the Lagrange points (L4 or L5 are the obvious choices) followed by a moon base (nice and easy to leave as well...)

        I'd start with the moon base for the resources, since there's not much at L4 and L5 except microgravity and solar power otherwise. But otherwise I would focus on cislunar space and the moon over Mars. There's not a lot of advantage to Mars over Luna except for guaranteed hydrogen supplies, and you're stuck at the end of a months-long logistical corridor when you settle on Mars. If something on Mars needs a replacement part from Earth, that's 3-9 months away. If someone needs terrestrial medical services on Mars, that's 3-9 months away. If you need replacement personnel, that's 3-9 months away. If you need to re-engineer a system, the replacement is 3-9 months away.

        The moon's advantage is that 3-day transit time, or 24 hours if you've got some spare delta-V like NASA's 1994 LUNOX study suggested. 1 to 3 days is on the time scale of resolving problems at a manufacturing company's supplier or remote site on Earth, and it's tolerable for medical emergencies (moreso than 3-9 months). The moon has all sorts of materials (metals, oxygen, sulfur, or regolith) that can be delivered to cis-lunar customers for fuel, reaction mass, shielding, and other applications, where 1-3 days is again preferable to 3-9 months.

        I mean, I'd take either the moon or Mars, whichever eventually gets funded. I'm not the one with the BFR. Or billions of dollars. The moon just eliminates the hurdle of months-long spaceflights.

        and since nobody has any weaponry that will exit orbit then a moon base would be perfectly safe in WW3,

        And the delta-V to reach a moon base isn't much lower than the delta-V to reach a Mars base. If you do have weaponry that can reach the moon, it could (eventually) reach Mars.

        1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

          Re: Musk really does see himself as the Saviour of Mankind

          "I'd start with the moon base for the resources,"

          And anyway, Falcons are pretty close to Eagles too.

        2. onefang Silver badge

          Re: Musk really does see himself as the Saviour of Mankind

          "If you need replacement personnel, that's 3-9 months away."

          It usually takes 9 months to make a human, and a lot longer to educate them to the level where they can do something useful for a Mars colony. With sufficient humans, they can become self sufficient for replacement personnel, just not quickly.

      2. IsJustabloke Silver badge
        Stop

        Re: Musk really does see himself as the Saviour of Mankind

        re ":I don't get this."

        If you were my enemy and you live in a valley and I live atop the hill, I don't need fancy guns and bombs.. I'll simply roll rocks down the hill at you.

        Think of the earth as you and the moon as me.

        If any country had established a moon base and based on today, there'd be a Chinese one, a Russian one, an American one and a European one at least, probably an Indian one as well because once the technology is such that it's a viable place to build a base everyone will. So you can be sure it would become a target some how.

        1. Jonathon Desmond

          Re: Musk really does see himself as the Saviour of Mankind

          "If any country had established a moon base and based on today, there'd be a Chinese one,..."

          You're probably right, and things could rapidly get confusing.

          To keep the nomenclature simple, the UN could maybe agree on numbering them. The Americans could have Moonbase 1, the Russians Moonbase 2....

          1. I&I

            Re: Musk really does see himself as the Saviour of Mankind

            Alpha

          2. onefang Silver badge

            Re: Musk really does see himself as the Saviour of Mankind

            "The Americans could have Moonbase 1, the Russians Moonbase 2...."

            And Musk would then have Moonbase 0.

            1. Jonathon Desmond

              Re: Musk really does see himself as the Saviour of Mankind

              That would require a retcon; Moonbase 0 doesn't exist in the source material

      3. Gene Cash Silver badge

        Re: Musk really does see himself as the Saviour of Mankind

        > The logical way forwards seems to be to build a base/assembly point at one of the Lagrange points (L4 or L5 are the obvious choices) followed by a moon base

        No, the reason Mars is the place to be is it can be self-sufficient. L5/Moon bases will always need a continuous resupply. There's very little on the Moon to exploit for resources, and nothing at all at L5.

        > to make it self sufficent takes lots of mass

        No, to make it self sufficent takes resources in-place. Mars has stuff we can refine. L5/Moon does not.

        1. Charlie Clark Silver badge

          Re: Musk really does see himself as the Saviour of Mankind

          No, the reason Mars is the place to be is it can be self-sufficient.

          Only in SF books. In practice it's about as difficult to make Mars habitable as it is to make the moon habitable.

        2. Peter2 Silver badge

          Re: Musk really does see himself as the Saviour of Mankind

          > to make it self sufficent takes lots of mass

          No, to make it self sufficent takes resources in-place. Mars has stuff we can refine. L5/Moon does not.

          To make it self sufficent just in air and food you need plants. Huge numbers of plants. Insanely huge numbers of plants. In turn, this needs building material to build a greenhouse on the moon/mars to put them in, plus water for both you and the plants. And fertiliser or a precise mix of nutriants to feed to the plants. Whatever, they need them and it takes up both cubic space and mass, as does shipping in oxygen. You can probably rely on the people to produce the Co2 for the plants after all.

          And if this is to survive WW3, your minimum viable poulation size for the purposes of genetic diversity is 4,139 people. (Plus spares for the people who suicide when they realise they are the last humans in the universe if you want to get into that, and i'd rather not)

          Just thinking about the infrastructure required for that number of people is giving me a headache. Your talking square miles worth of room simply for the plants for air, which might also double up for food if your lucky. I'm not so sure about water and recycling there, but again massive filtration systems would be required. And his is before we start considering the living quarters, creature comforts etc.

          Once you've finished with that lot then you can start thinking about industry for space mining, refining and then manufacture into tooling. It's mind blowing before you get half that far.

          All of this has to be shipped to the destination. Just doing it by truck would be expensive enough to daunt any normal human, but putting the lot into space? The closer the better.

          The moon simply is closer and easier to do things with. The only thing Mars really has going for it is the extra gravity, but that's only 2.5x what there is on the moon and under half what we have on earth. (1.62ms for the moon vs 3.71 for Mars and 9.8 for Earth)

          1. Charlie Clark Silver badge

            Re: Musk really does see himself as the Saviour of Mankind

            To make it self sufficent just in air and food you need plants.

            And something like a magnetosphere and ionosphere. A lot of the building could, in theory, be done using robots that get dumped there (just like Starcraft or The Martian) but it's going to be fun keeping any kind of complex control systems going in such a harsh environment. Okay, some of the rovers have done remarkably well but they mainly trundle around a bit and take photos.

            But, if you want to talk up the value of your company SpaceX, talking about settling Mars is exactly what, ahem, "investors" want to hear.

          2. rh587

            Re: Musk really does see himself as the Saviour of Mankind

            To make it self sufficent just in air and food you need plants. Huge numbers of plants. Insanely huge numbers of plants. In turn, this needs building material to build a greenhouse on the moon/mars to put them in, plus water for both you and the plants. And fertiliser or a precise mix of nutriants to feed to the plants. Whatever, they need them and it takes up both cubic space and mass, as does shipping in oxygen. You can probably rely on the people to produce the Co2 for the plants after all.

            It's a relatively closed system. Bar a few concentrated nutrient sachets, you recycle your waste...

            And if this is to survive WW3, your minimum viable poulation size for the purposes of genetic diversity is 4,139 people. (Plus spares for the people who suicide when they realise they are the last humans in the universe if you want to get into that, and i'd rather not)

            You don't need 4,139 people, you need 4139 sets of DNA. i.e. a sperm bank. Ship up an entire "B Population" in case it all goes tits up on Earth and you need genetic diversity on Mars.

            Your talking square miles worth of room simply for the plants for air, which might also double up for food if your lucky. I'm not so sure about water and recycling there, but again massive filtration systems would be required. And his is before we start considering the living quarters, creature comforts etc.

            And this is where inflatables (hello Bigelow, your time has come) and Boring Company (subterranean spaces) come into play.

            The moon simply is closer and easier to do things with. The only thing Mars really has going for it is the extra gravity, but that's only 2.5x what there is on the moon and under half what we have on earth. (1.62ms for the moon vs 3.71 for Mars and 9.8 for Earth)

            It's got ice and H3. That's about it. Once you've schlepped your mass into LEO, going to Mars or Moon is frankly neither here nor there. If it's a robotic pathfinder mission, you can let it take it's time - ion engines plus gravity slingshots. No need to use an expensive, energetic trajectory unless there's meatbags on board being irradiated.

          3. John H Woods Silver badge

            Genetic diversity...

            ... I'm not sure you need over 4000 people. Short term you could keep cloning your "first 100"... and you could satisfy your genetic diversity requirements using frozen sperm, eggs or embryos... it is not obviously beyond the bounds of future possibility to use digitally stored sequence information.

          4. Mark 85 Silver badge

            Re: Musk really does see himself as the Saviour of Mankind

            To make it self sufficent just in air and food you need plants. Huge numbers of plants. Insanely huge numbers of plants.

            The question is then, will plants from Earth grow there even if there's water and nutrients? Sunlight and warm temperatures are needed. Does Mars get enough "sun" for plants to grow? The warm part is something else to reckon with. A greenhouse can do the warmth.... maybe... I'm not 100% sure though.

          5. Brangdon

            Re: minimum viable poulation size for the purposes of genetic diversity is 4,139 people

            He's aiming for a million people on Mars. He's planning bigger, and over longer time scales, than you.

        3. cray74

          Re: Musk really does see himself as the Saviour of Mankind

          There's very little on the Moon to exploit for resources, and nothing at all at L5.

          The moon has all the resources of Mars except hydrogen, nitrogen, and carbon, and hydrogen has been arguably detected there. If not, it's certainly nearby on Earth.

          .

          That was the premise of NASA's 1994 LUNOX study: use the resources of the moon to support Earth orbit and cis-lunar operations, including importing hydrogen from Earth. Once you're extracting oxygen from the moon, you're getting at least 83% of the propellant mass needed for rocketry from a smaller gravity well than Earth. By switching to higher oxygen ratios than current rockets, like 7:1, you could source 87.5% of propellant mass to the moon.

          .

          And by switching to sulfur-oxygen "Brimstone" rockets, you could get all your propellants from the moon since Luna has plenty of both sulfur and oxygen. Brimstone rockets are not high performance (~2500m/s exhaust velocity), but they avoid the erosive solid combustion products of metal-oxygen rockets; both propellants are manageable as liquids; and 2500m/s is sufficient performance for lunar and near-Earth operations.

          .

          On the other hand, Mars' advantages in confirmed hydrogen, nitrogen, and carbon resources are at the end of a long transit time. While helpful for Martian colonists, it makes Mars less attractive as a supplier of near-Earth propellant needs.

      4. Charlie Clark Silver badge

        Re: Musk really does see himself as the Saviour of Mankind

        I don't get this.

        Possibly because you're thinking logically. For Mars read "El Dorado" and how this was used to sell colonisation of Latin America to poor citizens of the Spanish empire. Rinse and repeat for subsequent gold rushes and bubbles.

      5. rh587

        Re: Musk really does see himself as the Saviour of Mankind

        I don't get this. The logical way forwards seems to be to build a base/assembly point at one of the Lagrange points (L4 or L5 are the obvious choices) followed by a moon base (nice and easy to leave as well...) followed by progressing out to Mars once the tech and supply problems have been resolved.

        His entire mission architecture is built around homesteading - namely manufacturing Methane on Mars instead of lugging fuel out there to use on your return journey.

        There is little Methane (or it's composite elements!) to be found at the Lagrange points, or indeed on the Moon.

        It is precisely the reason he has gone to great lengths to develop new Methalox engines for BFR (the Keralox Merlins used on the Falcon family would be much harder to fuel on Mars).

        The premise of Mars is that in principle you could terraform it, but even in the short term there's enough atmosphere and elemental stuff going on to work with. No, it's not a Garden of Eden, but BFR is literally built to go to Mars, not to the Moon.

        The question is, what is there on the Moon? Why are you going to the moon? Because it's closer than Mars? Closer doesn't necessarily imply easier (in the long run). On the Moon there is probably some ice, aaaaand, that's about it. Now if you want to mine Helium-3, then that's a very fine reason to establish a mining outpost. Likewise a Deep Space Gateway either in Lunar Orbit or Lagrange is eventually going to be needed as well.

        And eventually, the things we need for Deep Space work, are going to be better off coming from the Moon and Mars with their relatively shallow gravity wells than from Earth.

        1. cray74

          Re: Musk really does see himself as the Saviour of Mankind

          Now if you want to mine Helium-3, then that's a very fine reason to establish a mining outpost

          Only if your space mine is cheaper than breeding helium-3 on Earth. Helium-3 is a decay product of tritium, which has been produced industrially on Earth by neutron spallation of light elements like lithium. Beryllium and boron are also suitable spallation targets if you want to save lithium for batteries.

      6. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Musk really does see himself as the Saviour of Mankind

        certainly. read the 'unofficial' biography "Elon Musk' - a lot of the things he's done are covered and sense made of rather random operations and ideas.

  7. Pete 2 Silver badge

    Closing down sale?

    We are told the americans plan to dump the ISS in 2028. That gives Musk about 10 years to make them an offer. Considering that it is impractical to drop it straight into the ocean in one piece, the disassembly into easily disposable chunks will take some time .... and considerable money.

    If Musk was to suggest that he would take it off NASA's hands for free and do something useful with it (by then the BFR could well have been replaced by the MFingHR). Possibly converting it into a staging post for Mars trips. Then I wonder just what the practicality of such an idea would be?

    1. Chris G Silver badge

      Re: Closing down sale?

      I can see a trend coming up here, if the successor to the BFR is going to be MFingHR what are they going to call the next one and the one after that, as they get bigger and bigger?

      1. cray74

        Re: Closing down sale?

        what are they going to call the next one and the one after that, as they get bigger and bigger?

        Tiny, because it doesn't feel the need to compensate with its name? ;)

        1. Aladdin Sane Silver badge

          Re: Closing down sale?

          Heart of Gold? Bistromath?

          1. onefang Silver badge

            Re: Closing down sale?

            WTFWT - What The Fuck Was That.

            OMGIAR - Oh My God It's A Rocket.

            MBTY - Mines Bigger Than Yours.

            Rama, Rama II, and Rama III.

            AWTY - Are We There Yet.

            AWTY2 - Are We There Yet, Are We There Yet.

            That last one can keep going on forever, just like Simpsons children.

    2. I&I

      Re: Closing down sale?

      ly

    3. Charlie Clark Silver badge

      Re: Closing down sale?

      I think by then most of the ISS is probably not going to be worth keeping so you'd basically be left with just the super structure. But there are probably good reasons to have a moratorium on proposed manned trips to Mars in any case: expensive, dangerous and of little value.

  8. Jaap Aap

    "Musk vows Big Rocket will go up 2019"

    up in flames?

    1. Mark 85 Silver badge

      He did leave that statement rather open-ended, didn't he?

  9. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    "...[Musk's] self-driving cars to be 200% safer than puny humans..."

    It's not even the slightest bit difficult for any very good (very careful) driver to be much better than "200% safer" (even if that means 3x) than *the average* human driver.

    Many truckers and other professional drivers are probably essentially "/0" (divide by zero) better than the average. Some of them earn multiple Million Mile Awards for driving perfection.

    In other words, they've never have had an accident of any sort.

    These trucker have not even crashed into the side of a Tesla that they perfectly failed to see against the sky.

  10. JeffyPoooh Silver badge
    Pint

    "AI taking over the world."

    I'm going to have to come up with a lovely stock photo to license out. But I can't be bothered. So I'll just toss this concept out there, public domain concept.

    Here's the image:

    The LCD monitor in the background is displaying a large friendly message about the CMOS/BIOS battery urgently needing to be replaced. The high power server computer case has been opened, with the screwdriver and case screws strewn about. The CR2032 battery package has somehow been torn open, with a shower of cells rained across the table. The selected little battery is firmly gripped in the robot arm. Those attentive to detail may notice that the robot's claw is made of metal, the lithium cell in the claw is faintly glowing due to the dead short circuit of the metal paw. The robot arm is poised over the motherboard. A HAL 2001 style large red glowing eye peers into the computer, and somehow manages to convey a subtle expression that indicates a deep concern about its chances of success.

    That's the image. Help yourself.

  11. onefang Silver badge
    Joke

    So we have Big Fucking Rocket, how about Space Launch Shit (SLS)?

  12. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Impossible

    On another site's comments, someone pointed out that it would be impossible for anyone to send a man to Mars because:

    The rocket could never be able to get through the Van Allen Radiation belt.

    Man has never been higher than low earth orbit.

    I've got to believe him, because he knows terms like Van Allen Radiation Belt and low earth orbit.

  13. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Waste of Space?

    So what is the point of it all exactly, it wastes serious amounts of energy, damages the environment in so many ways, burns serious amounts of money that could be put to other more meaningful use towards the worlds problems rather than blow it up on rockets that make no real difference to the world. Elon is great at building fanboy culture, but if you think about it going to Mars is about as much use as growing crops in remote areas of Siberia and pretending its a frozen planet. Rockets are never going to be real vehicles for real space exploration as they just aren't going to be efficient enough - ever. I bet he is laughing his way to the bank.

    1. DropBear Silver badge

      Re: Waste of Space?

      RTFA

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