The billionaire tech entrepreneur and SpaceX Chief Executive, Elon Musk has unveiled the meticulous blueprint of his plans to transport humans to Mars. With his magnanimous vision of colonizing the mars, Musk has revealed his proposal to land at least 2 cargo ships on the ‘Red Planet’ by 2022, speed-tracking it by a couple of years as against original plans. His ambitions include not only sending freight but claims robotic spaceship to be followed by manned missions to the planet by 2024. The Tesla co-founder and investor said that the space-crafts carrying crews will have power installed, mining and life supporting infrastructure to enable sustenance on the planet. This flagship mission is one among the several private and government funded projects which Musk is extremely hopeful about.
Musk spoke at the International Astronautical Congress (IAC) in Adelaide, Australia, projecting his confidence of building the ship and reiterated its launch within the next five years. He stated: “Five years seems like a long time for me,” before he outlined a framework for a functional lunar base.” Their Interplanetary Transport System (ITR) which has been codenamed as BFR(Big Fucking Rocket) is all set to be created using materials from the ‘soon to be obsolete’ spaceship in the SpaceX fleet.
Measuring about 30ft wide and 157ft tall, 40ft in diameter, it is partially re-usable and capable of ferrying around 100 people across 40 cabins and is said to feature an entertainment suite along with common areas with an estimated flying speed of 18,000 mph, anywhere on the Earth within 60 minutes. He asserted that passengers can travel to reach any destination across the world within this timeframe. The specs laid-out sketched a scaled-down version of the spacecraft that was proposed in 2016.
In 2016 IAC conference, Musk had revealed the first rocket-spacecraft combination with a video that displayed the concept and time it could save people travelling between NYC and Shanghai. He tweeted that “BFR will take you anywhere on Earth in less than 60 mins,” and appended the video to showcase that “most long distance trips” would take less than half an hour to cover.
In his speech, the space-science honcho shared images of the ship landed on the ‘Red Planet’, adjacent to a human settlement and stated his desire to make Mars “a nice place” inhabited with a large and sustainable population. He added, “I can’t think of anything more exciting than being out there among the stars.”
Many have questioned the feasibility of this mission, with NASA’s astronaut exclaiming that Musk has “bitten off more than he can chew.” However, the entrepreneur says that Space Exploration Technologies has engineered a single, shorter and slimmer rocket design which is cost friendly and should take less than half a decade to launch.
Certain aspects await more clarity like how much private companies will have to pay to use the rockets. Musk though did mention that the cost of a seat for the general public in all probabilities would match the same paid for an economy seat in a regular aircraft. This mission would be a joint expedition in collaboration with NASA, which aims to reach Mars by 2030s. Lockheed Martin Corp simultaneously announced their plans for a manned mission to Mars and uncovered their blue print for the same.
Some facts: Mars is at a distance of 140 million miles from the Earth. So, landing the first crew on the planet could take nearly a year. Some probable limitations of the journey that could alter its timely mission include lethal blast of cosmic radiation and immature propulsion technology.
Last year, Musk had cited an estimate of $10 billion for shuttling a crew comprising 12 astronauts, but with further calculations, it was figured out that if at least a million people signed-up, the cost could be curtailed to $200,000 per traveller. Musk insisted that the new space shuttle from SpaceX will be able to land on the Moon and revert to Earth. He presented graphics of potential lunar base to illustrate this and added that SpaceX would be able to service the ISS with the novel design as well.
Are there reasons to be sceptical of this plan?
Some slip-ups could cost a lot. For instance, in September last year, in Cape Carnival, a Falcon 9 exploded on its launch pad in Florida, stalling launch of any other rocket for almost four months. In 2015, another accident took place when a rocket disintegrated immediately after take-off.
This loss cost SpaceX around $260 million and NASA almost $112 million in cargo. However, the good news is that Musk was able to source funding of additional $350 million in this fiscal year that could cover loss of a single rocket failure. However, with the repute of rocket deliveries into space this year, SpaceX has acclaimed much recognition than any other companies on the globe. So let’s wait to see where the future takes us.
Article by Rochita.