SpaceX’s Big Falcon Rocket goes bolder, changes its name to Starship

SpaceX’s Big Falcon Rocket (or something a little more F-bomb heavy depending on how the mood takes Elon Musk) is dead. Long live “Starship.” SpaceX founder Musk unveiled the name change on Twitter this week, with a message reading simply: “Renaming BFR to Starship.” In a follow-up, he explained that, technically, Starship actually consists of two parts: The Starship upper stage spaceship and Super Heavy, the rocket booster needed to escape Earth’s deep gravity well.

No reason was given for the change, although its new Star Trek-style moniker perhaps speaks to the ambition of the project. After announcing the change, a Musk follower chipped in to observe that, “unless this starship is sent on a mission to another star system it can’t be called a starship.” Without skipping a beat (or is that a tweet?), Musk responded that, “Later versions will.” Given that our nearest star system is the Alpha Centauri system, approximately 4.3 light years — or 25.8 trillion miles — from Earth, that’s quite an optimistic suggestion. Unless he’s trolling us all, that is.

Designed with the goal of taking astronauts to Mars, the erstwhile BFR promises to be the most powerful launcher ever built. It will carry around 100 people on each journey. While not built yet, the 350-foot rocket will reportedly boast a gigantic 10.8 million pounds of thrust, making it the equivalent of 10 times the thrust generated by the Falcon 9 rockets that SpaceX regularly uses for its launches. Just like all SpaceX’s other rockets, it is designed to be reusable.

At present, SpaceX reportedly plans to test early prototypes of Starship in the atmosphere as soon as next year. Provided that these go well, it is then hoping for an orbital test in 2020, prior to a potential Mars flight as soon as 2022.

Whether SpaceX is able to stick to that schedule remains to be seen, of course. Over the weekend, Musk noted that Starship is also being redesigned. The new version of the revolutionary rocket, he says, is “very exciting [and] delightfully counter-intuitive.”

Hey, it wouldn’t be an Elon Musk project if it was dull and done by the books, now, would it?

Emerging Tech

Elon Musk thinks Starlink satellite internet could be online before 2021

Elon Musk's ultra-ambitious Starlink space internet project may take until November 2027 to be fully operational. However, some level of service could be offered as soon as next year.
Movies & TV

Skip the flowers and sunshine this spring and watch the best shows on Hulu

It's often overwhelming to navigate Hulu's robust library of TV shows. To help, we put together a list of the best shows on Hulu, whether you're into frenetic cartoons, intelligent dramas, or anything in between.
Emerging Tech

SpaceX scraps second effort to launch 60 Starlink satellites

Wednesday's planned SpaceX launch of 60 Starlink satellites was pushed back due to bad weather. Thursday's launch has also been postponed, so the company said it will try again next week.
Emerging Tech

SpaceX calls off Starlink launch just 15 minutes before liftoff

High winds above Cape Canaveral on Wednesday night forced SpaceX to postpone the launch of a Falcon 9 rocket in a mission that would have marked the first major deployment of the company’s Starlink internet satellites.
Emerging Tech

Watch this drone dodge an incoming soccer ball autonomously

Most drones aren't very good at avoiding incoming objects. But now a team from the University of Zurich has developed a drone which can dodge, swoop, and dive to avoid an incoming football.
Emerging Tech

Experts warn 5G could interfere with weather forecasts, reducing accuracy by 30%

Experts and officials have warned that interference from 5G wireless radios could seriously compromise the ability to forecast weather, including the prediction of extreme weather events like hurricanes.
Emerging Tech

Awesome Tech You Can’t Buy Yet: Insect drones and kinetic sculpture robots

Check out our roundup of the best new crowdfunding projects and product announcements that hit the web this week. You may not be able to buy this stuff yet, but it's fun to gawk!
Emerging Tech

Chang’e 4 mission may have found minerals from beneath the surface of the moon

China's Chang'e 4 mission has made a major discovery: minerals that could be from beneath the surface of the moon. The lander spotted two unexpected mineral types which match what is believed to exist in the mantle.
Emerging Tech

See the impact site where the Beresheet spacecraft crashed into the moon

An image of the crash site of SpaceIL's ill-fated Beresheet spacecraft has been captured by NASA's Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter and is being analyzed for information about the moon's soil.
Emerging Tech

See a fly-over of Mars and track the path Curiosity will take up Mount Sharp

A new animation from NASA shows a fly-over of Mount Sharp on Mars, the location where the Curiosity rover is currently exploring. It also shows the path that Curiosity will take over the next few years.
Emerging Tech

Two galaxies play tug of war in this spectacular Hubble image

Hubble has captured evidence of a nearby galactic neighbor affecting the the shape and star production of a galaxy. The irregular galaxy NGC 4485 has been pulled into an unusual shape due to the nearby and much larger galaxy NGC 4490.
Emerging Tech

The moon is shrinking as it loses heat, new images reveal

New research suggests the Moon is shrinking. NASA scientists have used data from their Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter Camera to look at wrinkles in the surface of the Moon which are formed as it loses heat and shrinks in size.
Emerging Tech

Friendly cube robot Bumble passes its first hardware test aboard the ISS

There are some unexpected guests aboard the International Space Station (ISS): cute cube robots called Astrobees. Now the first Astrobee robot has undergone hardware tests to check whether its subsystems are working correctly.
Emerging Tech

How Super Mario, Magic: The Gathering, and PowerPoint are low-key supercomputers

What if the creators of Super Mario World, PowerPoint, and even Magic: The Gathering had accidentally created tools hiding a general-purpose computer in plain sight? Turns out they have.