NASA SPENDS 72% OF 20 BILLION A YEAR ON THEMSELVES.
There was a report that through to 2017 Nasa had spent 20 billion on sls and orion development. in comparison Spacex spent 300mil on the falcon 9, 300mil on the dragon capsule, a billion on reusability development. A billion on the falcon heavy development. Bfr development to the first launch will probably 2-2.5 billion because they need to build a new factory. So you have to wonder what the hell did Nasa spend that 20 billion on because it wasn't the engineers, they don't get paid that much. The answer is in the report, Nasa paid themselves 72% of that money for 'overheads', which is guys writing reports and doing research and for gold plated paper clips i expect. Thats for one section of Nasa employees not all of it and not including the build costs to lockheed Boeing etc.who got collectively about 5.5 billion left over after Nasa's 'overheads'.
In comparison spacex overheads cost 0.5-1 billion a year and considering its only one rocket system spacex is doing comparable work. So value for money is in the region of 10-1. And its not new engineering for the sls, a lot of its components were developed 10 plus years ago. They can't say we have huge research costs because we are developing entirely new technology. Only a tiny part of their budget is spent on new research most of it was all designed and researched many years ago. 50% of their overhead spending or more can't even be accounted for and what can be is just rehashing of old research and deliberately over complicated and expensive ways of doing things so they can charge as much as possible for producing as little as possible. They will milk the old technology as they have been, to line their pockets and delay cost cutting technology like reusability as long as possible because that would mean they get less money to waste from the American taxpayer. (who is being defrauded i think). So they don't want to legitimize falcon heavy or bfr by any means and put at risk the golden goose called SLS. So the statements from them that they can't afford to launch SLS unless congress gives them more money are highly questionable. If they were not paying themselves 72% of the 20 billion that congress gives them per year for their 'overheads', they would have enough money. If they were not providing 1/10th value for money then they would have plenty of money.
To the question what payloads will be suitable for bfr to gain experience and prove its reliability and to keep it fully employed , the answer is spacex will be a major user of the bfr for its own satellite constellation, 2 of which are in orbit now being tested, then the satellites will be built on mass and dozens of bfr launches will be required to put them all in orbit. This is why spacex is not hanging about because it needs the capacity to launch large batches of its own satellites. Falcon heavy will be used before bfr is ready and they intend to create a larger fairing for it in case bfr is delayed because its not weight constrained but capacity constrained at present. I know Nasa has done some great work there are great people working there but the people running it have paid themselves very well for doing it and often provided substandard technology. They didn't need to have o rings that was a design choice because it was more expensive to do things that way and they knew it increased risk. So whatever happens with this SLS programme its a compromised and fraudulent deception on the public using old technology in the most expensive way possible and Spacex aught to distance themselves from it.