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Are SpaceX’s Rockets “Too Small” for Deep Space Travel?

Does size really matter? When it comes to exploring deep space, the answer might just be “yes.”

Recently, Boeing fired shots at Elon Musk and SpaceX’s Falcon Heavy rocket, calling it “too small” for NASA’s needs on their “Watch Us Fly” website. On their website, they claim that their Space Launch System—and not SpaceX’s Falcon Heavy—is the answer to all of NASA’s problems, which they back up with a testimonial from Bill Gerstenmaier, the chief of NASA’s human spaceflight program, to boot. Of course, this could just be Boeing boasting. As Ars Technica noted, Gerstenmaier hasn’t actually been able to explain why NASA needed the SLS rocket yet.

“The Falcon Heavy launch turned heads in February, but SpaceX’s rocket is a smaller type of rocket that can’t meet NASA’s deep-space needs,” according to the website. “Once the Boeing-built SLS is operational, it will be the most powerful rocket ever built.”

There’s just one problem: this is incredibly misleading.

The first version of the SLS won’t be out until late 2019, and when it debuts it won’t be the most powerful rocket ever made by a longshot. That version—the “most powerful rocket ever made” version—won’t be available until the mid-to-late 2020s at the earliest, and by that point it won’t be competing with the Falcon Heavy, but rather SpaceX’s BFR (an acronym whose meaning hardcore Doom fans should be able to suss out). And that’s just the tip of the iceberg. The rest of the story involves a Russian billionaire, British tabloids, and much more. You can find out more about Boeing’s claims, as well as Tesla shareholders’ questions for Elon Musk, and a Japanese car that actually transforms into a giant robot in today’s episode of Muskwatch.

Muskwatch airs on and YouTube every Tuesday, but you can watch all new episodes two full days earlier on Sunday if you’re an Alpha subscriber. If you’re not already, find out how you can get 30 days free right here.

What do you think of this week’s biggest Musk stories? What would you like to see us explore on the next Muskwatch? Would a cyborg dragon beat the Night King’s icy sky boi? Let us know in the comments below!


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