Elon Musk has revealed the tooling SpaceX will use to build the first manned spaceship to Mars.
The post, reveals a huge carbon fibre mandrel (with a Tesla Model 3 for scale) which the company will use to create its prototype spaceship to be launched next year.
The size of the tool is impressive, but what it represents is even more exciting.
What on earth is ‘tooling’
SpaceX will use the tool shown in a similar way to this jig. It is used to make composite fuselages for aircraft.
The ‘tooling’ that Elon Musk posted is technically known as jig or mandrel. These are used for layering carbon-fibre onto large composite structures.
The image shown looks to be the approximate length of SpaceX proposed main fuel tanks for its BFS.
SpaceX has already used similar jigs to create carbon composite structures for its Falcon 9 and Dragon.
Why a carbon-fibre rocket this size is exciting
There have been a handful small companies that have used carbon-composite materials for rockets. However, all of these have been small one-use machines. Up to now, there has never been a large composite cryogenic tank used for a rocket.
Last year SpaceX revealed their 12m composite tank. This was seen as a statement from the company that its Mars plan was credible.
The tank was created in secret and tested to ‘failure’ in this epic video
The tank in the new photo is around 9m; scaled down from the 12m tank that SpaceX has already demonstrated. They have already proved the technology works. What they are now proving now is they are able to produce it at scale.
This is an exciting development as it proves that SpaceX is making real progress the first rocket to send humans to Mars.