SpaceX founder Elon Musk claims that he’s closer to his vision of a Mars colony and hopes to issue mockups of the settlement on the Red Planet in a couple of years.
During a Reddit AMA session, the Tesla Motors founder further illuminated his plans to send one million people to Mars within the next century.
According to a report by the Los Angeles Times, much of the details had already been revealed before just like the reusable rocket boosters that can be docked in a parking orbit somewhere.
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These reusable boosters can then be refueled and checked. On Mars, a refueling station would also be built and the station will be capable of collecting enough methane fuel to send the rockets back home.
If his vision holds true, there will be 1,000 spaceships with a capacity to transport 100 humans to the Red Planet, which happens to be 46.8 million miles from Earth at the closest approach during the orbit around the sun.
What would the colony look like? Elon Musk explains:
“Initially, glass panes with carbon fiber frames to build geodesic domes on the surface, plus a lot of miner/tunneling droids,” he said. “With the latter, you can build out a huge amount of pressurized space for industrial operations and leave the glass domes for green living space.”
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The current priority, however, is to send a spacecraft on scouting missions before transporting the necessary equipment to build the refueling station. They will then send a crew of engineers to assemble the “rudimentary base” and the propellant plant.
With the live mockups in “a year or two,” Elon Musk hopes to clarify his vision to the public.
Just last month, the SpaceX program of Elon Musk suffered a setback when one of its rockets exploded at Cape Canaveral. Fortunately, nobody was injured in the blast, although it destroyed Facebook’s $200 million satellite that was set to be launched along with the spacecraft.
The SpaceX program released a statement immediately thereafter, which said, “The anomaly originated around the upper stage oxygen tanks and occurred during propellant loading of the vehicle. As per standard operating procedure, all personnel were clear of the pad and no-one was injured. We are continuing to review the data to identify the root cause.”
The spacecraft’s, dubbed the Interplanetary Transport System, are capable of hitting 20Gs but will only realistically be reaching about 15 Gs during maximum acceleration without suffering any problems. The landing would also be accurate since hovering above the surface while looking for a landing spot would cause excessive fuel consumption.
A “G” refers to the gravitational force. So 5Gs would be five times the force of gravity that a person’s body experiences.
To maximize their use, the SpaceX ITS would also be easily converted from carrying cargo to passengers, depending on need.
There remains a problem of insulating the carbon fiber tanks from oxidation risk because it’s constantly being battered by pure oxygen. But they are already testing some methods such as using thin sheets of invar on the inside or additional inert layer on the outside.
Elon Musk said they will “try to double the number of flights with each Earth-Mars orbital rendezvous, which is every 26 months until the city can grow by itself.”
Meanwhile, in order for the Mars colony to be sustainable, the 45-year-old revealed that they would need to build a lot of droids. That’s because construction would need a lot of mining and tunneling, tasks that would be impossible for humans considering the temperature and landscape of the Red Planet.
Even after a colony is established, Elon Musk said that the droids would still be in the background, although there’s no chance of the new settlers stumbling upon them within the safe confines of the glass domes.
[Featured Image by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images]