SpaceX is almost ready to begin building a permanent human settlement on Mars with its massive Starship rocket.
A private space company is on track to launch its first unmanned mission to Mars in four years, SpaceX founder and CEO Elon Musk told the International Mars Convention on Friday (Oct.16).
“I think we have a fighting chance to reach this second transition period on Mars,” Musk said in a discussion with Mars Society founder Robert Zubrin. You can view the speech recording here.
This window, mentioned by Musk, is an opportunity to launch a mission to Mars, which appears every 26 months. NASA, China and the UAE launched missions to Mars in July of this year. Another window will open in 2022, when Musk will refer to the opportunity to launch Mars by 2024.
The mission will launch the Red Planet on the SpaceX Starship vehicle, a reusable combination of rockets and spacecraft that is currently under development at the company’s facility in South Texas. SpaceX also plans to use Starship for lunar missions from 2022, as well as point-to-point travel around the Earth.
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Musk has long argued that humans must establish a permanent, self-sufficient presence on Mars to ensure “the continuation of consciousness as we know it” – in the event that planet Earth is uninhabitable by something like an atomic war or asteroid attack. .
But SpaceX has no plans to actually build a base on Mars. As a shipping company, its only goal is to transport goods (and people) to and from the Red Planet, which facilitates the development of someone else’s base on Mars.
“SpaceX is facing the biggest challenge of the transportation system. Several additional systems will be needed, “Robert Zubrin, founder of the Mars Society, said at the convention.
“My personal hope is that we will see the spaceship in the stratosphere before this year’s ascent, and if Elon is right, it will enter orbit next year or next,” Zubrin added. “It’s going to change people’s thinking into what’s possible. And then, you know, we’ll have NASA to try and finance the rest of the puzzle, or entrepreneurs to develop the remaining pieces of the puzzle in advance.”
If Musk’s projections are correct – known for offering overly ambitious timelines – the first Mars mission to SpaceX is expected to launch the same year NASA astronauts return to the moon under the Artemis program. SpaceX also plans to take space tourists on a spaceship mission around the moon in 2023. NASA has also selected SpaceX as one of three commercial teams to develop lunar landers for the Artemis program.
Musk said Friday that without the orbital mechanics that require Mars every 26 months, SpaceX “may have the ability to send or try to send something to Mars in three years,” Musk said that Earth and Mars would not be in the best position. . “But the window is four years away because they are in different parts of the solar system.”
Musk has unveiled plans for SpaceX’s spacecraft plans for 2016. The project aims to launch a 50-meter-long spaceship on top of a massive deep-sea mission amplifier to the Moon, Mars and elsewhere. The spaceship and its super heavy amplifier will be reusable.
This year, SpaceX launched two test flights of prototype spaceships, called SN5 and SN6, from the Boca Chica test site in Texas. These flights reached a height of 150 meters.
SpaceX is currently preparing another prototype spaceship, called the SN8, for a 12-mile (20-kilometer) test flight in the near future.
Email Hanneke Weitering at [email protected] or follow her on Twitter @hannekescience. Follow us on Twitter @Spacedotcom and on Facebook.