Elon Musk unveiled a new design for SpaceX’s BFR rocket on Thursday, and he’s taking inspiration from a famous series of Belgian comics. The CEO confirmed on Twitter that the new design “intentionally” bears resemblance to the vehicles depicted in The Adventures of Tintin, the whimsical series that depicts Tintin and his friends embarking on far-flung trips to find new stories.
On Thursday, SpaceX announced the BFR rocket will also ferry a private passenger around the moon.
The BFR was first announced at the International Astronautical Congress in Adelaide, Australia, in September 2017. SpaceX plans to send two BFRs to Mars in 2022, followed by four more in 2024. Two of the latter four will fly the first humans to Mars, with the other four providing supplies so they can refuel and return home.
The redesign shared with the moon announcement bears similarities to rockets as featured in Hergé’s comic series. The 1950 comic Destination Moon shows a red-and-yellow checkered rocket with three giant fins on the base, elevating the rocket above the ground, which Tintin and his friends use to visit the moon and explore a secret government project. The story continued in 1953 comic Explorers on the Moon.
The comics, published nearly two decades before NASA’s 1969 lunar visit, come surprisingly close to predicting Neil Armstrong’s famous words. Tintin exits the craft in the comic and, making his first steps on the dusty surface, proclaims: “This is it! I’ve walked a few steps! For the first time in the history of mankind there is an explorer on the moon!”
The new BFR design was depicted in a Twitter post below:
The new ship looks notably different from the IAC renderings:
Eagle-eyed followers immediately clocked some similarities between the giant-finned new craft and rockets from the Tintin comics:
Musk confirmed the similarity over Twitter:
It’s not the first time Musk has made reference to Tintin. In February, he dubbed two of SpaceX’s satellites Tintin A and B. The two crafts are part of a plan to provide internet service in space, using a staggering 4,425 satellites starting next year. The goal is to bring internet access to remote places that lack the infrastructure to support connectivity.
Musk’s new Tintin ship will play a pivotal role in a historic mission. SpaceX plans to reveal more details of the mission on Monday:
SpaceX has signed the world’s first private passenger to fly around the Moon aboard our BFR launch vehicle - an important step toward enabling access for everyday people who dream of traveling to space. Only 24 humans have been to the Moon in history. No one has visited since the last Apollo mission in 1972. Find out who’s flying and why on Monday, September 17 at 6pm PT.
The company plans to livestream the announcement here.