Elon Musk wants all of us to leave for Mars as soon as possible because we’re currently living on a dying planet.
How does he plan on doing that?
Well, recent events (such as a YouTube SpaceX video) have suggested that Musk’s SpaceX has been busy working on plans to create a city of Mars. But that, still hypothetical, city on Mars won’t be just your average looking city. According to the SpaceX founder, Elon Musk, that city will be a self-sustaining one.
SpaceX recently revealed a video which showed how the company intended to reach Mars.
Consequently, we’re more or less clear on how SpaceX plans to land on Mars.
However, what’s not so apparent is how will people actually survive in the red planet’s atmosphere.
Speaking during an address at the International Astronautical Congress convention, which took place in Guadalajara, Mexico, Musk hinted on revealing his plans about how his company was going to send people to Mars, not just for a space expedition but to actually live there.
Addressing the audience, Musk said that while he didn’t have an immediate doomsday prophecy, he was of the opinion that humans as a species really had only two possibilities for its survival.
He furthered explained and said that one path was to stay on Earth forever until an extinction event occurred sometime in the future.
Elon further added that the other option, a better alternative, was to become a multi-planetary species which he hoped everyone would agree was the right way to go.
Of course, the idea of leaving Earth to inhabit another planet seems pretty bright. Except that SpaceX doesn’t really have a great track record of leaving the Earth’s atmosphere let alone actually reach Mars and enable humans to live on the red planet.
Elon Musk’s “leave earth now” plan seems even less convincing considering the fact that less than a month ago, SpaceX’s rockets prevented from take off because of an inexplicable explosion.
The explosion caused the company’s Falcon 9 rockets to burst into flames without ever leaving its launchpad site.
After initial investigations, SpaceX revealed the results of its inspection teams and said that the cause of the explosion (the fire) could be traced back to a breach that occurred in Falcon 9’s helium supply.
Later, SpaceX said that the company had made concrete plans to send one of its rockets into space again by the month of November.
Before the start of the main presentation, the company revealed a what could be called a legitimate sneak peek preview of the company’s new ITS (Interplanetary Transport System) and what should people expect from SpaceX’s audacious plan to leave the planet to inhabit Mars.
Readers should also know that SpaceX’s Interplanetary Transport System was previously known as the Mars Colonial Transporter.
SpaceX, in other words, Elon Musk changed the name of the transport system a few weeks ago citing that the interplanetary transport system could also take humans to other planets in the solar system apart from Mars.
To get a better visual idea of how SpaceX along with Elon Musk, plan to send humans to Mars, watch the video below.
As mentioned earlier, the video which was released on YouTube by SpaceX’s official YouTube channel, provides a pretty good look at how the company plans to send humans to Mars. The sequence of various events that would take place to make the system work have been clearly outlined.
In the first part of the video, viewers can observe the rocket taking off from Cape Canaveral Launch Pad 39a.
The rocket is said to have about 28,730,000 pounds of upward force behind it. Moving forwards, the video shows the event after stage separation takes place.
Essentially, the spacecraft positions itself at a single place in orbit while the other separated part, the booster, heads back towards the Earth where it is shown to land.
The SpaceX video then shows a fuel tanker that is loaded onto the booster in order to provide the spacecraft the required fuel in orbit to complete the planned trip from Earth to Mars.
The propellant tanker is then shown returning to Earth while the spacecraft moves ahead with its route to Mars.
The spacecraft then deploys solar arrays and then cruises towards its destination until the spacecraft finally reaches Mars orbit.
The spacecraft is then shown landing on the surface of Mars and the final moments of the video show a brief look of the astronauts who are looking out onto the red planet’s plains.
What many of the viewers might not have noticed in the video is the fact that the video, at no point, shows any type of infrastructure which would be able to support the astronauts that landed on Mars.
And that was the whole plan right? Musk wanted to land humans on the surface of Mars not just to take samples or grow potatoes, but to actually live there. From the video shown, there seems to be nothing that indicates the presence of any technology that might help the astronauts survive the atmosphere on Mars for a long period of time.
In other words, as far the video is concerned, SpaceX forget to tell the audience how it planned on keeping humans alive after they’ve landed on Mars.
Judging by Elon Musk’s talk, it seems likely that SpaceX actually wants to send humans to Mars who would be able to develop the planet and build a permanent place of residence for other humans to come and live in.
We also know that SpaceX’s program includes 1000 ships, with each ship carrying about 200 people. Musk said during his address that in order to build self-sustaining cities on Mars, it would take around 40 to 100 years.
To put it another way, none of us would be alive to see the completion of Elon Musk’s self-sustaining city on Mars. Not sure about Elon Musk though, he might be able to come up with a self-preservation suit which allows him to live for a thousand years.
But of course, one of the main problems with the whole project is the amount of money it would take to complete the mission to Mars.
Elon Musk approximated the cost of the sending people to Mars would be around the $10 billion mark.
The founder and current CEO of the company, Elon Musk, also laid out the details on how humans would be able to afford the cost of going to Mars.
He said that there were essentially four ways in which the ticket to Mars would become a feasible option for most people.
Of course, we don’t know for sure that people would be able to buy a ticket to Mars as they buy a house anytime soon but Musk said that using methods such as reusable rockets, being able to refuel the spacecraft in orbit, discarding conventional rocket fuel for methane fuel and harvesting the methane fuel for the use of spacecraft on Mars itself, the travel to Mars might become a reality for many people living on earth.
SpaceX’s presentation on its plan to send humans to Mars also provided sufficient information about the rocket the company would use to send people to Mars and what would the experience be like for people travelling to Mars in one of the many SpaceX spaceships.
As was the case with Falcon 9, or rather as is the case with Falcon 9, the rocket booster used on the Interplanetary Transport System will be able to safely land and then be re-used.
As of this moment, the company can confidently boast about how SpaceX has already managed to land several of its Falcon 9 rockets on earth after a successful flight.
However, SpaceX hasn’t been able to fly any of the used rockets back into the orbit. So it remains to be seen how the company moves forward and develops the technology that allows it to send used rockets back into the orbit for more space missions.
As indicated before, one of the essential features of the plan to reuse rockets. To reuse rockets, SpaceX has to find a way to send the rockets back into space from the surface of Mars.
In other words, SpaceX has to successfully demonstrate that the company has the capability to send one of its Falcon 9 rockets back into space.
Needless to say, the ability to reuse rockets will be critical for SpaceX if the company wants to attract more interest from the people or even show that the plan to send humans to Mars is indeed a tenable one.
It was also revealed the SpaceX’s rocket that would be used to send humans to Mars, would easily dwarf the size of the largest rocket that is available anywhere in the world.
Yes, SpaceX’s rocket to send humans to Mars will be larger than the now-obsolete Saturn V. It will also be much bigger than SpaceX’s own Falcon Heavy.
To put it another way, SpaceX’s “save-the-humans” rocket will be unbelievably large.
As might be expected, some of the “humans” living on earth might not warm up to the idea of being locked up in a spacecraft for a period of months with nothing in sight other than more humans. Some might even consider it rather depressing.
However, according to Elon Musk, people don’t have to worry about dying of boredom while they travel to Mars in a spaceship.
During the presentation, Elon Musk said that it would be really fun to go Mars on a SpaceX spaceship and people would have a great time throughout the journey.
Of course, in order to achieve that Elon Musk will have to find a way to make such as long journey as comfortable as possible for the passengers on board. The company will have to make the inside of the rocket reasonably pleasant and homelike.
The journey from Earth to Mars is expected to take around 80 days if and when SpaceX comes up with the required technology to actually get to Mars.
Being an optimist as he is, Musk said that he expected the company to cut down the total time of the journey to Mars to under a month.
Is the plan feasible? Can SpaceX pull off such a plan?
Well, it really comes down to how SpaceX will manage to gather up enough money to go ahead with the project.
Making a comment on this issues, Musk said that he would reckon that it would be a great challenge to fund the whole project.
Elon Musk did spend quite a bit of time talking about how SpaceX would deal with the economics of making the ticket to Mars affordable. He also added that the price of travelling to Mars could, one day, become as low as $100,000 (which of course isn’t exactly peanuts but compared to the previous figure of $10 billion, it is mighty low).
Elon Musk also suggested that in order to complete the project he would be ready to exhaust some of his own assets.
He said that he really didn’t have any other motivation for personally accumulating assets, except to make the largest contribution he could, to make life multi-planetary.
But even if we assume that Musk spends most of this $11 billion he would still need an immense amount of financial support from other sources.
Talking about the matter Musk said that he knew there were a lot of people in the private sector interested in funding a trip to Mars.He further added that hopefully there would be interest in the government side as well and that ultimately the Mars project would be a huge private-public partnership.
But before all of that happens, Musk has to go into more details about what he meant when he said that the project included building “self-sustaining: cities.
In any case, if SpaceX becomes successful in landing humans on Mars then that opens up the possibility of travelling to other planets as well.
Musk noted that if SpaceX had a propellant depot, humans would be able to go from Mars to Jupiter without encountering any problems. He further added that it would mean full access to the entire greater solar system.
Musk also showed interest in landing humans on Europa, one of Jupiter’s moons.