Mars’ relative closeness to the Earth and ample distance from the Sun have made it humanity’s best target for off-world colonization. While a number of institutions are working hard to make a Mars colony a reality, SpaceX was the first to reveal a concrete plan to get to the Red Planet.
That plan has been outlined pretty clearly, but two important parts still lack detail: the spaceship that will transport humanity to Mars and the rocket that would launch that spaceship. While the plan is short on details, it includes plenty of acronyms, specifically MCT, ITS, and BFR.
The first two are actually one and the same. The Interplanetary Transport System, formerly known as the Mars Colonial Transporter, is the supposedly reusable spacecraft that would ferry people to Mars for $200,000 a head.
That transporter would reach space via the BFR, which stands for — no joke — Big F*cking Rocket, which should live up to its name. It’s expected to be bigger than the Falcon 9 and more powerful than the Falcon Heavy, which would make it the most powerful rocket ever built.
Right now, we don’t know too much about the ITS and the BFR. Thanks to a recent Twitter conversation, however, we do know that answers are forthcoming.
When SpaceX CEO Elon Musk was asked for updates about the architectural changes for the ITS and the BFR by Twitter user @RITSPEX, he responded with a promising timeline of “a few month.” As Inverse pointed out, that timeframe would place the announcement in September, one year after Musk first revealed his plans for Mars.
@RITSPEX Almost there. Probably in a few months.
— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) May 22, 2017
In the months since SpaceX’s plans were revealed, other agencies have been working on their own missions to Mars. NASA has recently detailed its two-phased plan to get to the Red Planet. Elsewhere, China has shared its plans to reach the Mars by the end of the decade, and the United Arab Emirates (UAE) has also joined the race. Among private space agencies, veteran aeronautics firm Boeing is intent on going head-to-head with SpaceX in getting to Mars.
All these efforts are varied, of course, but one thing is for sure. To get to Mars, we’ll need more than just a big f*cking rocket.