The SpaceX – Elon Musk goal of landing human beings on Mars at some time near the middle of the next decade seemed incredibly ambitious when it was announced by Musk a few years ago. But in the wake of the disaster’s explosion of a Falcon 9 rocket just last year, many have wondered whether this goal will have to be changed, delayed or abandoned entirely. That doesn’t seem to be the case.
As reported by Ars Technica, Sunday afternoon, SpaceX carried out a successful static fire test of a Falcon 9 rocket at the historically significant Launch Complex-39A – which it recently leased from NASA for 20 years. Following the successful test, it’s anticipated that SpaceX will launch this same Falcon 9 from the facility next weekend.
Further, SpaceX and Elon Musk have recently made clear their intention to accelerate their launch rate so that they will soon be launching as often as once every two or three weeks. This would be unprecedented for the company, especially given the frequent interruptions they have experienced during their early growing pains.
SpaceX – Elon Musk Plans for Mars
Once referred to as the Mars Colonial Transporter, Business Insider noted that Elon Musk has renamed the ship and system he is establishing for carrying human beings to Mars – and it turns out elsewhere – the Interplanetary Transport System. According to the specifics provided at a meeting in Mexico, each ship is designed to travel from Earth orbit to Mars and then back for multiple reuses.
More than this, the ships will have a capacity of at least 100 passengers – perhaps expandable to as many as 200. This is roughly the same as the number of people who were carried across the Atlantic by early sailing ships bringing over colonists to North America.
Musk also stresses that his plan requires more than just one such interplanetary ship. To move thousands or millions to Mars over the coming decades, it will be necessary to construct hundreds of these ships.
According to Musk, the travel time to Mars would initially be about 80 days – which again is similar to the travel time colonial era sailing ships experienced traveling from Great Britain or elsewhere in Europe to the New World. And Musk believes that eventually – with improvements – he might be able to get this travel time down to just 30 days. Speaking about a Mars colony, Musk said:
“Oddly enough, I actually think the odds are pretty good. At this point I am certain there is a way. I’m certain success is one of the possible outcomes for establishing a self-sustaining Mars colony, in fact a growing Mars colony. I’m certain that it’s possible. Whereas until maybe a few years ago I was unsure whether success was even one of the possible outcomes.”
Purpose on Mars
Obviously, Elon Musk and SpaceX aren’t going to all this trouble just for the fun of it or even to satisfy scientific curiosity about Mars. Unlike the Apollo moon landings of decades ago carried out by NASA, Musk hopes that his voyagers to Mars will have a much longer term – in fact permanent – impact on human society.
The ultimate SpaceX – Musk purpose is to establish a massive human Mars colony comprised of hundreds of thousands of people on the surface of Mars within the next 50-100 years. He has reasons for doing this are in part based on the idea that such a colony would serve as a safe haven for humanity should anything ever happened to the earth – such as a plague, a massive asteroid strike or a nuclear war. Having such a backup location for the human race certainly sounds like a good idea right now.
[Featured Image by SpaceX]