The Big Falcon Ship (BFS) has been renamed to Starship. The Big Falcon Booster (BFB) has been renamed to Heavy Booster.

Will the sub-orbital version of BFS Starship for Earth to Earth missions, be very different than the orbital BFS Starship that would be used with Big Falcon Booster?

Just like airplanes would you want to have multiple designs for long or short distance, less or more passengers, good or bad weather?


The Starship, BFS vehicle has almost SSTO capability, with very little payload.

The less than SSTO mission profile of Earth To Earth suborbital would likely allow single stage operations not requiring the booster at all.

There will almost certainly be three different Starship models before Earth to Earth is considered.

  • Cargo (Satellites)
  • Refueling
  • Manned (Orbital, and Mars missions likely will differ as well)

Thus the E2E vehicle will likely be a variant of the orbital manned design. Most of the changes will be internal. 200 passengers (or whatever number) versus a smaller crew, but with airline like seating. There will be a simpler life support system, in some ways, and more complex in others. More people to support, but for much shorter periods of time.

SpaceX has yet to explain how they plan to handle all these variants. Time will tell.

  • $\begingroup$ thank you for answer, i am surprised that you think earth to earth bfs version will be after the 3 listed versions, i will do more research, i thought they would earth to earth version first to get more money $\endgroup$ – user2177046 Dec 19 '18 at 16:16
  • $\begingroup$ You raise an excellent point and it makes you wonder what they are planning. E2E has additional issues. Landing/Launch sites around the world. Whereas satellite launch in Cargo version is ready to go on first launch. Payload bay by volume and mass is large enough to handle every payload. E2E only makes sense once flight are cheap and fast between. Use Cargo version to refine the design. Refueler is a minor tweak of cargo. Manned to ISS is harder but somewhat less huge. Mars transit is another big step. What is good is they have a series of step transitions that each one adds value by itself. $\endgroup$ – geoffc Dec 19 '18 at 17:57

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