SpaceX CEO Elon Musk announced Thursday that the 15-year-old rocket maker will soon switch gears to focus entirely on a new deep-space rocket and will no longer produce its current repertoire of space-going systems.
The announcement comes as the Hawthorne-based company prepares for the first launch later this year of its newest model, the 5-million-pound thrust Falcon Heavy, and crewed launches with NASA next year.
“I can’t think of anything more exciting than going out there and being among the stars,” Musk said, during a presentation at the International Astronautical Congress in Adelaide, Australia. “We want to have one booster and ship that replace Falcon 9, Falcon Heavy, and Dragon. If we can do that, then all the resources used for Falcon 9, Falcon Heavy, and Dragon can be applied to this system. That’s really fundamental.”
The company is coming off a string of 16 successive post-launch landings of the first stage of its workhorse Falcon 9 rocket, which replaced the original Falcon 1 model in 2015. Musk said SpaceX will build up a stockpile of the current equipment before moving solely into BFR development.
Not only is SpaceX the first commercial rocket maker to deliver payloads to space and handle national-security missions, it has developed a close relationship with NASA. The company is gearing up to launch its fourth rocket this year from Vandenberg Air Force Base near Lompoc on Oct.9, just two days after it delivers a satellite to orbit from Florida.
All together, SpaceX has launched 13 rockets this year while also returning most of the first-stage boosters to its Florida landing pad and at-sea barges on both coasts.
But Musk has bigger plans.
Here are six things to know about how he plans to pave the way to human colonization of Mars and the Moon beginning in 2022.
It’s called … BFR?
SpaceX has already begun development of the mysteriously named new rocket, which goes…