Since I was a young child Mars held a special fascination for me. It was so close and yet so faraway. I have never doubted that it once had advanced life and still has remnants of that life now. I am a dedicated member of the Mars Society,Norcal Mars Society National Space Society, Planetary Society, And the SETI Institute. I am a supporter of Explore Mars, Inc. I'm a great admirer of Elon Musk and SpaceX. I have a strong feeling that Space X will send a human to Mars first.
Elon Musk, the billionaire founder of SpaceX, has outlined a bold plan for interplanetary travel that could take humans to Mars as soon as 2025, as part of a broader effort to form a human colony on the red planet.
While life on Mars has long been seen as a sci-fi fantasy, Mr Musk’s success with SpaceX and his personal financial resources make the SpaceX programme one of the most serious Mars efforts yet.
In a presentation on Tuesday, Mr Musk outlined for the first time the technical details of how SpaceX planned to operate missions to Mars, and said the company would need more funding to get there.
The billionaire head of Tesla and SpaceX also emphasised his personal commitment to helping humans pursue life on other planets.
“The main reason I personally am accumulating assets is in order to fund this,” Mr Musk said. He wants to use his money “to make the biggest contribution I can to making life multi-planetary”, he added.
SpaceX’s plan for Mars travel includes building a reusable spaceship that could travel between Earth and Mars and would take roughly three months to get there. The craft would be launched into orbit with empty fuel tanks, then be fuelled up with methane by a refuelling ship before it took off for Mars.
These ships would both be launched with a reusable booster rocket that is similar to SpaceX’s current Falcon 9 rocket, but bigger.
However, the timing of the Mars announcement is unusual, coming less than a month after a SpaceX rocket exploded during a routine refuelling and just three months after a separate SpaceX rocket blew up in flight.
Mr Musk tried to play down expectations of a specific timeline for the programme. “If things go super well it might be kind of in the 10-year timeframe,” he said, referring to taking passengers to Mars. “But there is a huge amount of risk. It is going to cost a lot. There is a good chance we don’t succeed.”
SpaceX plans to send its small Dragon 2 spacecraft on test missions to Mars during the 2018 and 2020 pairing windows, when Earth and Mars are close.
A new spaceship that can carry between 100 and 200 passengers would be developed within four years, Mr Musk said. The spaceship, tentatively named “Heart of Gold”, could make its first test run to Mars in 2022 and then take passengers there during the 2024-25 pairing window.
Developing this interplanetary travel system could cost about $10bn, Mr Musk said, and SpaceX planned to invest more in this area.
Mr Musk is also hoping outside investors, such as the US government and wealthy space enthusiasts, will help support the cost of developing the Mars spaceship.
SpaceX currently spends “tens of millions of dollars” on the interplanetary programme, which will increase to about $300m annually in a few years as the company plans its new Mars spaceship.
Nasa has also outlined its own plan for missions to Mars, but those efforts are separate from those of SpaceX.
Despite the high cost, Mr Musk said he hoped to make travel to Mars as affordable as possible, estimating that tickets could one day cost as little as $200,000.
He declined to answer questions about whether he himself would be on the first trip to Mars, however, pointing out that the chances of death were very high and that he wanted to see his children grow up.
During his 90-minute presentation at the International Astronautical Conference in Guadalajara, Mr Musk described a futuristic vision in which a self-sustaining human colony on Mars might be supported by nuclear power. SpaceX’s spaceship fleet could eventually grow to a thousand ships, he mused, adding that travel throughout the solar system might be possible if humans put fuel stations on various moons.
The immediate goal, however, is to get humans to Mars as safely and economically as possible. “History is going to bifurcate in two directions, one path is we stay on Earth forever and then there will be some eventual extinction event … The alternative is to become a multi-planet species, which I hope you agree is the right way to go,” he said.