Elon Musk has been busy tweeting about his mid-term plans for SpaceX. Currently, SpaceX uses a tried and tested Falcon 9 rocket which has proved extremely reliable. The – current – next step has been to focus on the ‘Falcon Heavy’, an improved design that’s capable of carrying a heavier satellite payload and yet also has the potential for a much higher recovery/reusability rate.
Musk now says that SpaceX will additionally attempt a test flight next year of a Falcon 9 but with a modified upper stage in order to trial SpaceX’s next-generation launcher. Musk’s Tweet said: “Mod to SpaceX tech tree build: Falcon 9 second stage will be upgraded to be like a mini-BFR Ship”.
That ‘mini-BFR ship’ he refers to is a modified intermediate stage to the totally reusable Big Falcon Rocket that he hopes will be an intercontinental passenger rocket that also has the potential to fly to Mars.
Musk said this mini-BFR could fly by June next year. “Ultra-light heat shield & high Mach control surfaces are what we can’t test well without orbital entry,” he commented.
Meanwhile, on the financial markets it was widely reported that Musk is looking to raise extra cash via a loan of up to $750 million.