Doug Plata gave his assessment of the SpaceX BFR (aka Super Heavy Starship) and whether it will be built.
His conclusion were:
* The Fully reusable Super Heavy Starship will be gamechanger
* Super Heavy Lift is needed for Mars but not the moon
* Elon will have enough resources (money) to build it
* The BFR is about 85% likely
* there is chance it will fail
* When the upper stage achieves orbit then policy should be changed to support it.
Plata suggested the naming to be BFB (first stage, Big Falcon Booster) and BFS (second stage, Big Falcon Spaceship).
He believes its lift capability puts it into a new class. SDHLV (Super Duper Heavy Lift Vehicle).
SpaceX has been eager to make progress on the Super Heavy Starship to put pressure for financial support from NASA and the military. This is why they have started building pieces under a large tent.
The repeated small hop tests starting in 2019. These tests and constant increase in excitement will again put pressure for the private-public partnership to start.
If the Super Heavy Starship reaches orbit then the pressure on NASA to cancel Space Launch System and put a few billion per year into Super Heavy Starship will be very large. Nextbigfuture thinks the pressure should large now even with the SpaceX Falcon Heavy.
Plata sees the following steps towards Mars Society goals with Super Heavy Starship.
* Build the Super Heavy Starship
* Increasing grasshopper like hops
* Suborbital flights
* Upper stage can reach orbit
* Build the lower stage booster
* Use the full rocket to test fast re-entry to simulate the returns from the moon and Mars (high speed re-entry)
* Shakeout in Cislunar space
* unmanned Mars mission
* crewed landing on the moon
* crewed landing on Mars
Can all those steps be done by 2022. Nextbigfuture thinks the unmanned Mars mission can be done by 2022.
Plata’s Guesses on Timeline