LONG BEACH, CA--Last Sunday night, Elon Musk shared a photo of the tooling that will be used to make carbon-fiber composites for the SpaceX Big Falcon Rocket (BFR) spaceship, reports Ars Technica. SpaceX intends to manufacture the BFR components near its Hawthorne, CA, headquarters for easy shipping to test sites and launch pads.
Carbon fibers, which are generally woven into a fabric, possess desirable qualities such as high tensile strength, low mass, high temperature tolerance, and low thermal expansion. Using carbon-fiber composites instead of aluminum to manufacture tanks for a rocket booster allows a manufacturer to save tons of mass, and in a rocket as large as the BFR, that will translate into many fewer tons.
Based upon what Musk said in 2017, the spacecraft for which this tooling was made has a diameter of 9 meters and encompasses six engines, propellant tanks, and a large payload area that could carry many satellites into space or carry people to Mars. The proposed BFS has a pressurized volume of 825 cubic meters, which is only about 100 meters less than the entire interior volume of the International Space Station.