Elon Musk’s grand vision beckons us to the red planet

Image courtesy: www.universetoday.com

Dubbing the future residents of Earth as multi-planetary species, Elon Musk divulged his ambitious plans on colonizing Mars. If all goes well, SpaceX founder Musk proposes to put humans on Mars by 2025.

Delivering the keynote speech at the International Astronautical Conngress (IAC) held in Mexico on Tuesday, he elaborated on his grand vision put up-to 100 humans on Mars following 80 days of interplanetary travel on-board what he calls ‘Interplanetary Transport System’ (ITS).

Admitting his optimism, he said that ITS could begin flights as early as by 2023.

He outlined his vision by presenting a short simulated video of the future Mars flight which would be powered by a reusable booster rocket. The SpaceX chief said that his rocket would ferry a spaceship module carrying passengers to an orbit around Earth.


Also read: Meet ‘Solar Express’, a train that can pace to Mars at 1% speed of light!

Rocket would then separate from the module and return to the launch pad on Earth to pickup a propellant tank and lift-off again to rendezvous with the spaceship in orbit. After completing the fuelling process, the spaceship would commence its 80-day journey to Mars.

The ship would deploy a solar array so as to coast on its way to the red planet.

Now here’s the part of his plan where you may frown.

Tickets for this lifetime adventure, according to Musk, would cost around $500,000 per person. However, due to various austerity measures that would be adopted by the project, the cost may drop down to $100,000 over time, Musk said.

Roadblocks to the dream? Definitely yes!

Musk estimates the overall cost of the first passenger flight to Mars would incur $10 billion. However, he hopes to rope in a huge “public-private partnership” to materialize the project. Wielding a pragmatic assessment of the project he also declared that he is “accruing his own money to fund the project.”

“That is how the United States was established,” Musk said, highlighting just how massive this project really is for him.

Even as it still sounds to be conceptual, SpaceX is poised to make the ‘big leap’. Last weekend, SpaceX test-fired one of the Raptor rocket engines that would help launch the rocket and passenger module into space, and the company has also built a gigantic prototype fuel tank for the booster.

Image courtesy: bbc.com
Image courtesy: bbc.com

SpaceX plans to begin test flights of ITS within four years. However, well before that, the company hopes to have sent an uncrewed Dragon capsule to Mars in 2018.

As per the design of the ITS, it would stand a whopping 122 metres tall, and its booster will be powered by 42 Raptor engines and nine separately for the spaceship. Now that’s a heck lot of work to go into the project!

Paying tribute to Douglas Adams science novel ‘The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy’, Musk will call his first ship in the series ‘Heart of Gold’.

Though the ‘grand plan’ may launch only once in 26 months, the billionaire space entrepreneur envisions to launch thousands of vessels to set-up a self sustaining Mars colony.

Even at the current rate of technological progress, it may take a century to accomplish it

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