The Pentagon: It Even Looks Like a Space Colony
Weighing many millions of tonnes, The Pentagon — US military headquarters — is far too massive for any of SpaceX’s current generations of rockets to boost into orbit.
- Falcon 9 can only lift about 20 tonnes.
- Falcon Heavy will boost around 50 tonnes of payload.
- And BFR — Big F’N Rocket (where “F’N” stands for Falcon) — is planned to boost roughly 150 tonnes per launch.
150 tonnes is a lot of mass to loft into Earth orbit, but compared to The Pentagon’s many millions of tonnes of steel and concrete, the BFR simply cannot cut the mustard.
Large Payloads Lead to Permanent Human Presence in Space
Many people get excited about a day trip to the edge of space — as Jeff Bezos’ company will soon offer. Others are thrilled at the prospect of flying from New York to London in 20 minutes. But that is only scratching the surface of what space has to offer.
If launch companies such as SpaceX or Blue Origin can affordably boost payloads of hundreds — or thousands — of tonnes on a regular schedule, productive human infrastructure can be rapidly built in Earth orbit, in cis-Lunar space, on the moon, on Mars, and beyond.
For years, Earth will need to supply all human space outposts with regular shipments of food, water, and materials for use in construction and industrial production. But as humans build better ways of processing and utilising space materials mined from asteroids and the moon, more human space ventures will learn to grow their own food and become more self-sufficient in water and materials. The commercial supply chains will soon go in both directions, as space-made products and materials become part of the Terran trading markets.
It should be clear to everyone who pays attention that the entire human space venture hinges upon affordable access to space for high mass payloads. The Falcon Heavy, with a payload of over 50 tonnes to Earth Orbit, will be a good start. The Heavy is scheduled for its second launch — and 1st commercial launch — sometime in April of 2019.
SpaceX rockets are designed to be reusable, which so far seems to allow for lower costs to LEO. Unlike other space launch companies, SpaceX seems to be constantly at work upgrading its rockets to be ever more reliable, less expensive, and more capable in terms of lifting heavier payloads for a wider range of space missions — including manned Mars missions. Blue Origin is being forced to work harder just to catch up — and then to keep up with SpaceX if it can.