Elon Musk Hints at New Mystery Rocket

Posted by on October 16th, 2012

During interviews on SpaceX’s current and near-future plans for the company, both Elon Musk and SpaceX president Gwynne Shotwell have made allusions to a much larger rocket than the Falcon Heavy they plan on launching next year. The Falcon Heavy, basically three Falcon 9’s strapped together with modified Merlin engines will be the most powerful rocket since the Saturn V with a launch to low earth orbit capacity of 53 tons. The new rocket, powered by “MCT” engines would have a capability of up to 200 tons to LEO. That’s enough capacity to put the entire International Space Station up in two trips.

By comparison, NASA’s next rocket system, the Space Launch System is planned to have a cargo capacity of 130 tons to LEO, a third less than the MCT.

The engine cores for the MCT rocket would each be capable of 1.5 millions pounds of thrust. Shotwell says final specs are still being determined. The vehicle itself could have a diameter of 21 feet – making it wider that an Boeing 747 jet.

Elon Musk hasn’t elaborated on what MCT stands for, but that hasn’t stopped people from speculating. Given his stated goal of retiring to the red planet, the “M” could stand for Mars; making this the Mars Cargo/Crew Transport?

SpaceX aims big with massive new rocket

7 Responses to “Elon Musk Hints at New Mystery Rocket”

  1. Cobey Cobb Says:

    As soon as i read ” “M” could stand for Mars; making this the Mars Cargo/Crew Transport” s my stomach started tingling. Can you imagine if the first person ever to step foot on another planet put themselves there on their own rocket? Soo….does that mean Musk is going to “own” Mars? Finders keepers?

  2. Andrew Mayne Says:

    I had this thought last night too. Interesting idea…

  3. adros47 Says:

    Could it be this…

  4. Ken Peleshok Says:

    Gotta love Elon. “Oh and one more thing. I went ahead and made all your childhood dreams possible.” Thanks buddy.

  5. Gregory Muir Says:

    Has anyone explored the full possibility set available with lower-cost access to space? It was touched upon in the podcast with the point that the fuel to get to space on something like Falcon 9 is $200k so imagine if the cost of refurb and amortized production cost could get you the full mission for $500k instead of $54 mil for a standard launch, $133 mil for an ISS cargo flight.

    The standard comparison is pepper; worth more than its weight in gold back in the day, now so cheap they give it away at fast food restaurants as a cheap condiment. When computers filled warehouses they were of specialized and limited use and now everyone carries a computer in their pocket that can wirelessly connect to every networked computer on the planet.

    By comparison, we have a strong business case for sub-$1k genetic sequencing. Human Genome Project: $3 billion. Big drop. What does dirt-cheap sequencing give us? Tailored drugs unique to the individual, tailored therapies. Right now we do medicine like off-the-rack suits, hope it doesn’t fit too poorly. There’s any number of things scientists can point to that we can’t do at a billion dollar price point that becomes possible at a million, that becomes possible at $10k, that becomes possible at $10.

  6. JustinRYoung Says:

    The possibilities are infinite.

  7. Anonymous Says:

    A poster at NASASpaceFlight.com reports that Tom Mueller, SpX’s VP of Propulsion, said at a university lecture Q&A it stands for “Mars Colonial Transport.”