SpaceX’s Big-F-Rocket has a new name. The company’s upcoming interplanetary transportation system, designed for refueling to visit Mars and beyond, has a simpler name that evokes its most impressive feature. CEO Elon Musk revealed on Tuesday that the ship will henceforth be known as Starship.
The announcement comes just days after Musk revealed plans to redesign the ship, first unveiled in full at the International Astronautical Congress in Adelaide, Australia last September. Musk said that the new version would be “delightfully counter-intuitive,” while also stating that the company was shifting efforts away from further development of the Falcon 9. Musk explained that the Starship is actually the name of the upper stage itself, while the rocket booster will be known as “Super Heavy.” Twitter user Michael Wolman stated that “unless this ‘starship’ is sent on a mission to another star system it can’t be called a starship.” Musk wrote in response that “later versions will.”
The shift comes just two months after Musk unveiled a redesigned BFR, complete with new concept images. The new images added fins to the rocket, in a reference to The Adventures of Tintin, while also lengthening the spaceship section by seven meters to 55 meters. The new version also changed the rear engines from two sea-level Raptor engines plus four space-ready engines, to a design with seven sea-level engines.
SpaceX has big plans for the ship. The company plans to send two unmanned ships to Mars, possibly as early as 2022, followed by two unmanned ships and two manned ships as soon as 2024. The company is also aiming to send Japanese billionaire Yukazu Maezawa on a trip around the moon, with a group of other artists, on a privately-funded trip around the year 2023.
News of the Starship could launch soon, with the company expected to complete “hop tests” of a few short kilometers at the Boca Chica facility in Texas sometime next year.