Elon Musk says Harry Potter and Bob the Builder will get SpaceX flying to Mars

Reddit AMA says Raptor rocket will be safer and more reliable than commercial aircraft

SpaceX, Tesla and Boring Company CEO Elon Musk has suggested Bob the Builder and Harry Potter will help his space exploration efforts.

In a Reddit Ask Me Anything session dedicated to the Big F**cking Rocket, but which quickly veered into discussion of the Big F**cking Spaceship (BFS) he plans to fly to Mars, the magnate offered some bizarre Q&A couplets such as:

Question Answer
Will the BFR autogenous pressurization system be heat exchanger based? We plan to use the Incendio spell from Harry Potter: http://harrypotter.wikia.com/wiki/Fire-Making_Spell - But, yes and probably
You can't land on moon using 3MN engine Yes, you can. - Bob, the Builder
How does the BFS achieve vertical stabilization, without a tail? Tails are lame

Elsewhere in the AMA he offered more detailed and satisfying answers. Although when asked why the Raptor rocket planned to power the BFS had its s thrust was reduced from ~300 tons-force to ~170 tons-force, he first answered “We chickened out.”

His deeper explanation is that “In order to be able to land the BF Ship with an engine failure at the worst possible moment, you have to have multiple engines. The difficulty of deep throttling an engine increases in a non-linear way, so 2:1 is fairly easy, but a deep 5:1 is very hard. Granularity is also a big factor. If you just have two engines that do everything, the engine complexity is much higher and, if one fails, you've lost half your power.”

Another question concerned the infrastructure that will await Mars colonists. Musk said “Our goal is get you there and ensure the basic infrastructure for propellant production and survival is in place. A rough analogy is that we are trying to build the equivalent of the transcontinental railway. A vast amount of industry will need to be built on Mars by many other companies and millions of people.”

Asked for information on how SpaceX is planning for its first two BFS cargo missions to Mars, Musk had this to say:

Will be starting with a full-scale Ship doing short hops of a few hundred kilometers altitude and lateral distance. Those are fairly easy on the vehicle, as no heat shield is needed, we can have a large amount of reserve propellant and don't need the high area ratio, deep space Raptor engines. Next step will be doing orbital velocity Ship flights, which will need all of the above. Worth noting that BFS is capable of reaching orbit by itself with low payload, but having the BF Booster increases payload by more than an order of magnitude. Earth is the wrong planet for single stage to orbit. No problemo on Mars.

One Redditor wanted to know if the BFS' delta wings and heat shield could be removed for deep space missions. “Wouldn't call what BFS has a delta wing,” Musk replied. “It is quite small (and light) relative to the rest of the vehicle and is never actually used to generate lift in the way that an aircraft wing is used. It's true purpose is to "balance out" the ship, ensuring that it doesn't enter engines first from orbit (that would be really bad), and provide pitch and yaw control during reentry.”

Asked how the internet could be extended to Mars, Musk offered the following:

But, yes, it would make sense to strip the headers out and do a UDP-style feed with extreme compression and a CRC check to confirm the packet is good, then do a batch resend of the CRC-failed packets. Something like that. Earth to Mars is over 22 light-minutes at max distance.

Another question concerned the Raptor's role in Musk's planned sub-orbital rocket transport service.

“The objective is to meet or exceed passenger airline levels of safety,” Musk replied. “If our engine is even close to a jet engine in reliability, has a flak shield to protect against a rapid unscheduled disassembly and we have more engines than the typical two of most airliners, then exceeding airline safety should be possible.”

“That will be especially important for point to point journeys on Earth. The advantage of getting somewhere in 30 mins by rocket instead of 15 hours by plane will be negatively affected if 'but also, you might die' is on the ticket.”

There's plenty more, but the long and short of it is that Musk thinks a couple of supply missions would be needed to set up a viable Mars presence, that those journeys could land tail down and that all the hardware should be re-usable. While he didn't commit to timeframes for the Mars journey, he didn't dispute 2022 as a landing date for cargo missions, or 2025 for crewed flights. ®

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