Musk's improved design of Big Falcon Rocket could propel humanity to Mars

File photo of Tesla founder Elon Musk

SpaceX CEO Elon Musk has updated the design for a powerful rocket intended to propel a space vehicle that may help establish human presence on Mars.

The updated design for the Big Falcon Rocket (BFR) was described in an article published in the journal New Space.

Musk not only provides details on the BFR's updated design but, importantly, presents a plan for how to pay for it.

He described the development of a huge carbon fibre tank that is capable of holding the cryogenic liquid oxygen needed to fuel the rocket, and the key to the SpaceX business case, how on orbit refuelling will take place.

The article also reports on progress toward perfecting propulsive landing and achieving rendezvous and docking.

He also detailed the changes to the vehicle as its design has evolved, and the dramatic differences in payload capabilities between previous and current versions of the vehicle and BFR designs.

Musk summarised his vision and goals for a future manned Mission to Mars.

"Elon's description of the Big Falcon Rocket, along with the stunning recent success of the Falcon 9 Heavy indicates just how far SpaceX has come in establishing the elements needed to dramatically lower the cost for deep space exploration," said Scott Hubbard from Stanford University in the US.

"I look forward to seeing SpaceX contribute to human exploration as well as near-term science goals like the Mars Sample Return," said Hubbard, who is the Editor-in-Chief of New Space.