SpaceX BFR Component Spotted Ahead of Planned 'Hop Tests'

SpaceX’s next giant rocket is coming to life. New images emerged this week of the BFR, the company’s forthcoming ship designed to transport humans to Mars and even further using a refueling system that harvests resources from the nearby area. The new shots show a 29.5-foot composite propellor tank dome, expected to help the ship complete this task.

The dome, spotted by Teslarati, is being housed in complete form at the company’s Port of Los Angeles facility. The city announced back in April that the company would use a vacant building to construct the vehicle, at Berth 240 near the southwest side of Terminal Island. The domes were detailed in the first reveal for the BFR back at the 2017 International Astronautical Congress in Adelaide, Australia, shown in a cutaway slide. CEO Elon Musk announced a slightly tweaked version earlier this year but did not produce any updated cutaways, meaning there could be some under-the-hood changes to the dome.

See more: SpaceX BFR: Everything We Know About Elon Musk’s Massive Mars-Bound Rocket

The BFR is huge. The updated design shows a ship over 100 meters tall, with the ability to push over 100 tons of payload to low Earth orbit with full reusability. It has a forward payload section with over 1000 cubic meters of pressurized space. Previous designs show the fuel tanks in the booster hold 240 tons of methane and 860 tons of oxygen, with the dome splitting the two.

The company has big plans for the rocket. Among its first missions will be to take Japanese billionaire Yusaku Maezawa, along with a collection of chosen artists, on a trip around the moon as part of an art project. This is scheduled to take place around 2023. Musk also suggested at the 2017 IAC that the company could send two unmanned ships to Mars as early as 2022, before sending humans on the next trip in 2024.

SpaceX is scheduled to hold “hop tests” of a few short kilometers sometime next year, ahead of a full launch at a later date. The tests are expected to take place at the Boca China facility in Texas.

Media via SpaceX/Instagram