Published: Sat, February 10, 2018
Science | By Hubert Green

Elon Musk Explains Why SpaceX Prefers Smaller Rocket Engines

Elon Musk Explains Why SpaceX Prefers Smaller Rocket Engines

Launched this week, Musk's rocket is created to deliver a payload of 64 tons to a low-Earth orbit, similar to that of the Russian N-1.

At last report, that auto was still en route far out into the solar system, with a projected apohelion (its farthest point before the Sun's gravity starts dragging it back) of 2.61 astronomical units from the Sun - well within the Asteroid Belt between Mars and Jupiter. Musk's plan is for the $100,000 Tesla Roadster - with the message "Don't panic!" stamped on the dashboard - to cruise through high-energy radiation belts towards deep space. As for Musk, with the mostly successful first flight out of the way (minus losing the center core during an attempted landing on a drone ship), Falcon Heavy is likely a few months away from launching on its first contracted missions.

It revealed SpaceX CEO Elon Musk's cherry red sports vehicle.

The Falcon Heavy will be able to lift more payload than any other American rocket since the Saturn V, the NASA rocket used for the Apollo moon landings, according to a SpaceX press release. The rocket is also said to be the most powerful rocket in operation in the world according to a New York Times article.

The Falcon Heavy jumbo rocket flying into space actually carried Musk's vehicle, Tesla Roadster, on it and has a sole passenger, a mannequin named Starman. The closest the vehicle will get to Mars is in October 2020; it'll pass by Earth again in 2026, 2031, and 2039.

During the company's earnings call this week, Musk told analysts he expects to sell 100,000 units or more annually by 2022.

"So if you take four years, I think, 100,000 units a year is a reasonable expectation", he says.

SpaceX BFR cabins
The BFR ship will include cabins a galley and an entertainment area

Meanwhile, NASA has been planning a Space Launch System rocket for Mars missions.

The timing adds pressure to Tesla's first-quarter production goals, and it adds yet another item to the company's lengthy to-do list.

Rocket recycling is the key to SpaceX's launch cost-cutting strategy. And don't forget the Model Y, its compact crossover, or that battery-powered pickup truck Musk says he's been dreaming of for years.

The United States hasn't had a spacecraft capable of sending humans to orbit since NASA's Space Shuttle program retired in 2011.

This fact should make SpaceX the default choice for any satellite operator, space station builder, or asteroid miner that needs to launch anything truly massive into space.

"We want a new space race, " he said.

The orbit data from HORIZONS also means that it's possible to predict when Starman will cruise close by Earth again, making it easier to spot, as Popular Mechanics reports.

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