Boeing gave the US the B52 and 747, the Spacex BFR will be bigger than either

Boeing gave the US military long range conventional bombing superiority for decades with the B52 and commercial aviation dominance with the 747.

The fully reusable Spacex BFR will have more military and commercial impact than the B52 and the 747 combined.

The weapon would naturally contain a large kinetic energy, because it moves at orbital velocities, at least 8 kilometers per second. As the rod would approach Earth it would necessarily lose most of the velocity, but the remaining energy would cause considerable damage. Some systems are quoted as having the yield of a small tactical nuclear bomb. These designs are envisioned as a bunker buster. As the name suggests, the ‘bunker buster’ is powerful enough to destroy a nuclear bunker. With 6–8 satellites on a given orbit, a target could be hit within 12–15 minutes from any given time, less than half the time taken by an ICBM and without the launch warning. Such a system could also be equipped with sensors to detect incoming anti-ballistic missile-type threats and relatively light protective measures to use against them.

A 6.1 m × 0.3 m tungsten cylinder impacting at Mach 10 has a kinetic energy equivalent to approximately 11.5 tons of TNT (or 7.2 tons of dynamite). Every flight of a Spacex BFR could add 150 tons of hypersonic ammunition to a deployed Rods from God space system.

The USA could have a fleet of over 200 Spacex BFR by 2025.

The US has recently talked about creating a sixth branch of the military, a Space Corp.

A fleet of 200 Spacex BFR and orbital space station would be a transformative non-nuclear force.

Instead of spending at least $50 billion on a long range bomber program and tens of billions on hypersonic missiles,

29 thoughts on “Boeing gave the US the B52 and 747, the Spacex BFR will be bigger than either”

  1. BFR or MORE appropriately BFD!! … Elon ‘PT Barnum’ Musk is a big time Bullchit Artist, you do realize that EVERY other legitimate Rocket Aeronautical Engineer is laughing at this BFR “Vaporware” that has no reality only boasting cartoon drawings!? Which makes you Brian Wang and idiot for believing it! Try to do some REAL Journalism: (just a FEW examples)

    • This bullsh..t artist has just taken away all comercial space launches from the country paying you to say Musk is a charlatan.

  2. what idiot wrote this? For one thing we signed an international treaty not to weaponized space. Not that I think Russia or China truly abide by that. we need SpaceX no doubt but we also need Bombers and Hypersonic planes and Missiles. But most of all what we need is a Government that does not waste its resources like spending Half a billion on a new Helicopter design and only make 2 copies and then decide oh we don’t want that. Waste and mismanagement is our Biggest problem

    • We did sign that treaty, but we also signed a ABM treaty as well that we have dropped out of. The Russians signed a Intermediate Ballistic Missile ban as well and have ignored it. Treatys are only valid for as long as each person is getting the same amount (or near it) of value out of it. Once thats not happening, no more treaty.

      If the U.S. thinks that this would give it an advantage that other countries could not match then you can bet dollars to donuts the U.S. Goverment will seriously look at it.

      I personally think it’s a bad idea. I dont think Russia in it’s wildest dreams could match this, but I think China could. Also – Just because Russia cant match it, doesnt mean it wouldnt incent them to drop out of other treaties or start trouble someplace else in response.

    • “what idiot wrote this? For one thing we signed an international treaty not to weaponized space.”

      No, we signed a treaty (OST) not to put “weapons of mass destruction” in Space, which is a *much* more specific definition.

      “But most of all what we need is a Government that does not waste its resources like spending Half a billion on a new Helicopter design and only make 2 copies and then decide oh we don’t want that.”

      In short, you expect a government hierarchy that truly eliminates agency cost, a thing that never was, and that ignores the nature of a species of large obstreperously violent primates that provide the agents of any hierarchy. NOT.GOING.To.HAPPEN.

  3. All you need is 7 BFRs each one launching once a week will give ability of every day launch. Space Marines could buy one for themselves. So all you need is 8 BFRs.

  4. Every flight of a Spacex BFR could add 150 tons of hypersonic ammunition to a deployed Rods from God space system.

    Haven’t examined it in years, so maybe I’m way behind the times, but didn’t the whole Rods from God concept have serious issues with frictional heating as the rods pass through the atmosphere?

    Seems to me that space based ICBM defenses would be best use of BFRs. Lasers, pellets, etc that intercept where the air is thin.

    • ³He as in he-he-he? I agree – its a laughable concept. We simply don’t have FUSION controlled enough to make the easiest path D+T into power. And there’s a LOT of D+T available. Never mind the neutron flux. It has its uses. Namely… making more T out of Lithium. Almost exactly as much as consumed by the reactor. There are dozens of Google hits on the subject.

      Nope. Having (say, abundant) sources of ³He doesn’t help in the least. Not until we actually have a path the can achieve COP 10+ in fusion. Why COP 10+? Because that way 90% of the reactor’s internal energy can be tapped for useful external power production.

      The operating formula is k = 1 – 1/COP. Where k is the fraction of useful energy output. It also in a way determines finite scale for a given power level output.

      Say we need 1 GW output, and all we have is 50% efficient super-critical CO₂ turbines (not unreasonable). Well, internally we need 2 GW of thermal output. At COP=10 (k=0.90), we can easily show that the total internal energy must need be 2 GW ÷ 0.90 = 2.22 GW. And of that 10% (0.22 GW) is the “input electrical/etc energy”. Compare that to a COP=4 setup.

      COP = 4
      k = 1 – ¼ = 0.75
      2 GW ÷ 0.75 = 2.67 GW internal energy
      2.67 × ¼ = 0.667 GW internal investment power.

      0.667 ÷ 0.222 = 3 times larger internal input excitation and containment energy.

      Fusion first.
      ³He mining after.


    • HE3 might make it all worthwhile. All the power we will ever need without any of the radiation.

      Mining He3 in space for fusion still is a pipe dream.

      As Goat refers: we already have the pieces for technologies that could give us all the energy we could ever need. They were only waiting for a cheap enough launch system to make them viable.

      If we have the means to launch them economically, we could build many huge solar power satellites that would send gigawatts of power to Earth, nearly 24/24 (all day coverage if we have several), safely via harmless microwaves.

      The antennas required on the ground would be akin to the big solar power plants we already know, occupying some low cost land, with the added advantage that they only need to cover some area with an electric net, allowing the land to be used for crops or any other use. And the intensity of said microwaves would be low enough to be harmless to birds and other fauna flying over the antennas.

      This really is the Next Big Thing the space launch business has been waiting for decades. Trillions of dollars worth.

      Valuable enough to justify paying to clean up the mess we have made in LEO, MEO and GEO, which would become very valuable prime spots to have them filled with junk.

      Oh, and LEO low latency Internet access covering the whole Earth, that’s another big business coming from much cheaper launchers.

    • If you can get net power from He3, you can also get net power from the easier D-D reaction. The output of D-D fusion is half He3, and half tritium which decays to He3 with a 12-year half-life. Therefore, if you really want He3 fusion, the easiest way to get it is to just fuse D-D. You’ll get some neutron radiation in the process, but dealing with that will be far easier than sifting through millions of tons of dirt on the moon.

      Fusion startup Helion is actually attempting a hybrid D-D/D-He3 reactor. They say it would only release 6% of its energy as neutron radiation.

  5. I doubt it. How big it will get will be determined by how big the space economy gets. What can we make in space that will be better and cheaper than what we can make here on the earth. Maybe mining on the moon and asteroids could be a factor but you have to remember that prices go down as supply increases.

  6. Sometimes one wonders if Brian is paid to write these or is just high on something.
    Let’s be real here, something with multiple times the Shuttle’s complexity isn’t going to happen anytime soon, at least not without $100B in R&D, R&D that as the plan goes require man-rated service to pay back.
    This is a company that spent >5 years just to realize it’s “shockingly hard” to strap 3 existing boosters together like the D4H, and didn’t realize until this year it’s actually extremly difficulity to man-rate a heatshield with legs
    They’re not going to figure out heatshield basd orbital rentry with couple hundred tons of crygenic fuel anytime soon, let alone have it man rated, or with any semblance of affordbility and frequency.
    Shame realistic plans and R&D are getting little attention, or worse getting attacked, by people on the mountain of stupidity believing in fantasies… then again this seem to be the cultural climate in the US these days, on many subjects
    Wait till next year when the “plan” gets downscaled again and maybe you’ll get something a closer to reality
    e.g. Falcon 9 upgrade / reengine with 150mT class Raptor sometime in the early 2020s, so they have enough thrust overhead to attempt second stage return on 8mT LEO/SSO unmanned missions, that there might be a market for.

    • vlhcvlhc
      “Sometimes one wonders if Brian is paid to write these or is just high on something.” Don’t judge others using yourself as an example.

    • Vlh said:

      “Let’s be real here, something with multiple times the Shuttle’s complexity isn’t going to happen anytime soon, at least not without $100B in R&D, R&D that as the plan goes require man-rated service to pay back.”

      Lets be real, BFR is *not* going to be nearly as complex as the Space Shuttle. Why not? Because SpaceX does not have to satisfy the *political* demands of the hierarchs needing to gain votes by preserving Apollo jobs. *That* is why the Space Shuttle was so complex and so costly.

      There is a *huge* difference between the engineering for a government-funded project and the same project funded by a private concern. As a very small example, look at what happened when Blue Origin blew up one of their rocket engine test cells a number of years ago. In a NASA-run project getting a new test cell built would have required months spent on several meetings between all involved organizations, with clearance still to be got from the congressional committee that would vote money for the project, if their members agreed that their constituents would get enough money from the appropriation. Total time could easily be 2 years. For Blue Origin, a single meeting on the cause of the failure and the need for a replacement test cell saw the check cut in that single ten minute meeting, with the locally sourced materials delivered and the new test cell built in 3 months. To equate the speed of 2 organizations that have completely different incentive structures for their agents inside the organization is ridiculous.

      To equate their costs, when those at the top of their funding hierarchies have deeply different primary desires for the project goes beyond ridiculous. Another example of this inside China is the announcement today of the Long March 9 vehicle, that will basically be a Chinese SLS-class expendable launch vehicle, and the earlier announcement by a private company of raising capital to build a smaller copy of the concepts in the Falcon 9 launcher, as China’s first reusable launch vehicle. I know which I consider a better investment for China, and it isn’t what will loft 140 tons of prestige at a time for the people in the Politburo.

    • BFR is not “multiple times the Shuttle complexity”. It will be much less complex and much less costly than that monstrosity.

  7. The USA could have a fleet of over 200 Spacex BFR by 2025.

    I think that sounds wildly optimistic – unless BFR is the new codename for Tesla Model 3.
    But if the US has even just one BFR by 2025, it will still be a game-changer. The future is suddenly coming much faster than expected.

  8. A giant rocket is a good thing. Especially since it is not a “SSTO” (single stage to orbit). The great booster gets it about ⅔ the way ‘there’. The last ⅓ plus significant payload is for the illustrated return vehicle to comport around. Both – because of their excess thrusting capacity – are able potentially to land over and over again.

    All good.

    Although – even to myself – I am sounding curmudgeonly, although the forces, accelerations, engine stresses, and infrastructure are significantly higher for any space flight than conventional aircraft, for the wealthy, as long as it turns out to be 1,000 mission “safe” (oh, perhaps a lower value for the early adopters – but I’ll also venture to bet that they’d want not-reused boosters and flyers), once it reaches that or better, then even commercial spaceport to spaceport service down on Dirt is a high potential commercial market.

    Meanwhile, I also venture that it will take “space megaprojects” that yield profitable products that will drive the enterprise. Repair services come to mind – you’ve launched a hundred million dollar satellite; it gets to its orbit, but doesn’t deploy right ‘cuz of mechanical fubars. Send up a repair team! At a launch-and-return-and-relaunch-again price of maybe $20,000,000 (shorter term), a team can go forth, rendezvous, pull out the bailing-wire and duct tape, pocket knife and WD–40, and get the FUBAR satellite operational. And be back in a couple of days, none the worse for the wear.

    That’s a profitable investment.

    Or the investment in 100 or 300 or 1,000 missions to finally loft a constellation of super-high power, lower MEO power-sats. 10 GW class. Big ones. Like a constellation of GPS satellites, perpetually in a tessellation orbit of maybe 60 or so orbital players. At about 6,000 to 10,000 km “altitude” (90% to 140% of 1 Earth Radius). Lots of sunlight. Lots of ground station coverage. Sufficiently small down-link microwave beams to simultaneously hit less-than–1-km diameter target pads with over 90% efficiency.

    Megaproject. Mega-electricity. Power is money. Profit is good.

    A long-standing but not oft-recalled megaproject would be chip-manufacture. The depths of space is nearly perfect for this, especially coupled with zero-G microgravity orbitals. ALL the “dirty” manufacturing done on Dirt (or Luna), to make wafers, polish ’em, and so on. All the fancy stuff in space. Just send up supplies, and take back chips. With “megaproject” scale chip foundries.

    Another OFT mentioned one is distilling-and-fractioning captured space boulders. Asteroids of just the right kind to yield a wealth of quite rare and necessary raw materials. That’d take a lot of flights.

    Muskadon has already found a project that aught to yield profit-dough. Internet communcations with a dense network of LEO sats. Cover Dirt everywhere with Internet. Its a good Idea. I applaud it.

    And NO – this comment was not generated by a GoatGuy bot.


    • I think the space rock recovery mission is probably the best. It looks like even today a Dragon can bring back 5400lbs of weight. Obviously you cant bring back a big rock in a Dragon, but if BFR can bring back from orbit 10+ Tons, this maybe makes a lot of sense. IE, Catch a big Space Rock and land it on the earth and then mine it. Or, find a big space rock, blow off parts of it and bring those parts back.

      All the Asteroid mining I have seen to date (ideas for it) have involved mining the rock in space, which seems.. hard. With BFR, couldnt we just bring the rock back to Earth and mine it here?

  9. Boeing gave the US the B52 and 747, the Spacex BFR will be bigger than either

    Getting a bit ahead of ourselves there.

    • Getting a bit ahead of ourselves there.

      Yup. The B52 and 747 are REAL and proven. Whereas the BFR still only exists on youtube and power point slides.

      • That’s why Brian calls it “next big future,” not “today’s big thing right now”.

        But I suspect BFR dev is a good ways past a powerpoint presentation.

  10. “The fully reusable Spacex BFR will have more military and commercial impact than the B52 and the 747 combined.”

    More accurately, but with less punch, BFR *can* have more impact than the B-52 and the 747 combined. Whether that will happen or not depends on whether the hierarchies of the US government are willing and able to adapt to the possibilities opened up by the BFR. At the moment there is substantial resistance to that. The FAA doesn’t want to even adapt to little drones flying packages to consumers, much less adapt to what is needed by 45 minute P-P transit anywhere in the world. The USAF has shown itself unwilling to give high enough priority to its Space Command budget, and opposes a Space Corps/Force that would take from its Air Staff the decisions about when to appeal to the Secretary of the AF to move money from Space Command to fighter squadrons, much less the levels of funding needed to take advantage of BFR.

    A new organization could be the start of this adaptation, inside the Dept of Transportation, a Space Guard, modeled on the Coast Guard, also under the DoT presently. It would be focused, initially, on what AST does, and on expanding it to airline-style operations that do *not* require extensive permitting for each flight, but *do* require landing clearance, before takeoff. Once this shows competence, a Space Corps may have a better chance at breaking away from the AF.

    *If* these hierarchy adaptations are successful, *then* we can see the full effects of BFR. Without them, we will only see incremental changes that waste decades of time before they can make a full changeover to new possibilities.

  11. Nothing to say about the potential impact of these new rockets, which undoubtedly they will have.

    I just want to comment how amusingly big the BFS looks attached to the ISS. Specially when it has an internal space that rivals that of the old station itself, and that could qualify it as an insta-space station just by leaving it parked in orbit long enough. Of that’s not what it is designed to do, it’s just so huge that it could.

    Seems like we need to plan some new havens and destinations for those rockets.

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