Today, SpaceX CEO Elon Musk stood before the International Aeronautical Congress and released his visions for the human race’s journey to becoming an interplanetary species. Hitching a ride to Mars on a private rocket may not be so unrealistic as many people believe.
Musk first stated that his main goal for the presentation was to “make Mars seem possible” and to show that private space flight will not be a thing for only the 1%. In his words, “YOU will be able to go.”
Why even go to Mars at all?
Musk states that there are two possibilities for our species:
1) We stay on Earth forever and eventually suffer an extinction level disaster.
2) Leave Earth and become a multi-planetary species and create a self-sustaining population on Mars.
Logical thinking when stated so simply. Musk explained that Mars is the best candidate in our solar system because it is the closest, and it is the most similar to Earth. With frozen H2O and Nitrogen in the atmosphere, Mars has many of the components needed for humans to survive.
Plans to make the journey cost efficient and achievable
According to Musk, following traditional space travel methods, it would cost nearly $10 Billion per person. His goal is to make a ticket cost close to the median price of a house today: about $200,000.
With further explanation, he went on to describe the four things that would need to occur to make efficient travel between Mars and Earth and vice versa possible:
1) A ship and system that is fully reusable.
SpaceX’s design calls for a system that utilizes a fully reusable booster, ship,and tanker.
2) Refilling in Orbit.
Using the tanker aforementioned, the ship will be fueled while in a parking orbit above Earth to save mass on lift off and to allow for more fuel to be carried.
3) Propellant production on Mars.
Because Mars has both carbon dioxide and water, a propellant called Deep Cryo-Methalox can be created. It is essentially formed during a combustion reaction of the previous reactant to form methane. Musk stated that this would be achieved via a propellant production plant that would utilize fields of solar panels for energy.
4) Right propellant.
Just as in number three, the choice to use a methane propellant its is essential for the plan to work.
The vehicle will consist of 42 engines, have a liftoff thrust of about 13,000 tons, and be able to carry 100+ passengers plus cargo.
Elon expressed the difficulties with funding the interplanetary mission but explained that SpaceX is gaining income from launching satellites and working with NASA. Investors are definitely welcome, but Musk did not reveal any new partnerships.
Concluding his presentation, Musk stated that they are, “making as much progress as we can with the resources that we have,” and also made sure that the public knew that, “this is different from Apollo.” Elon Musk has many ideas and hopes for the future and SpaceX’s Interplanetary System is, what he hopes will be, a step in the right direction.
Elon Musk has many ideas and hopes for the future, and SpaceX’s Interplanetary System is, what he hopes will be, a step in the right direction.
Source used for video of presentation: http://www.recode.net/2016/9/27/13078820/elon-musk-rockets-mars-spacex-watch