In September, the tech mogul Elon Musk walked onto a stage in Guadalajara, Mexico, and laid out his vision to colonize Mars with his company SpaceX. The talk was bold for a couple of reasons. First, the plan itself is ambitious — Musk hopes to fly 1 million people to the red planet as a sort of "backup drive" for Earth at cost of $100,000 to $200,000 per person. Second, he delivered the presentation weeks after a SpaceX rocket blew up on a launchpad.
Now Musk has written a new paper that outlines the most recent version of his Mars vision. Published in the June issue of the academic journal New Space, the article appears to be an edited summary of Musk's September talk. (A full transcript of that, along with Musk's slide deck, is available here.)
In the text, Musk describes his argument for reusing rockets to reduce the cost of spaceflight thousandfold. The paper also includes descriptions of early designs of the enormous spacecraft he hopes to build.
This is a cutaway of just the spaceship, which Musk prefers to call the "Big F***ing Spaceship." It would stand more than 160 feet tall — halfway up the Statue of Liberty.
Lütken measured out each part of the habitable section and figured out how to fit at least 100 people — which Musk says is necessary to hit $200,000 per one-way ticket.
On September 27, Elon Musk laid out his audacious plan to launch a million people to Mars at $200,000 a ticket and save humanity from certain death on Earth.
Although the recent publication does not present too many new details, Musk tweeted on June 16 that a second version of his Mars plan is "coming soon" and will address what he called "the most fundamental flaw" in the first version: "how to pay for development & operation of giant rockets".
That's not surprising, since several important events have happened since Musk's original presentation.
For one, Musk further elaborated on his Mars plans in October during an Ask Me Anything session on Reddit. He outlined a four-stage process to inhabit Mars, explained how he'd create fuel and air on the planet, and disclosed his name for the main spaceship: Heart of Gold, a nod to the book "The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy."
In the speech, Musk also disclosed the existence of a giant fuel tank for his Mars spaceship. That colossal tank, made entirely out of carbon fiber, passed a big pressure test in November, according to Musk.
Elon Musk disclosed the existence of a giant fuel tank for his Mars spaceship. That colossal tank, made entirely out of carbon fiber, passed a big pressure test in November, according to Musk.
Additionally, the investigation into the uncrewed Falcon 9 rocket that exploded on a launchpad in Cape Canaveral, Florida, closed in January, and SpaceX resumed launching rockets the same month. The company also successfully re-launched and re-landed a previously flown rocket booster, demonstrating the potential cost savings of its $1 billion investment into reusable rocket technologies.
SpaceX is also ramping up hiring. It had 473 open positions in March and 487 as of this posting, and many are dedicated to the company's Mars-exploration efforts.
And Musk's company is gearing up to launch its biggest launch system ever: Falcon Heavy. In a tweet on June 8, the SpaceX CEO said the first super-heavy-lift rocket could take off as soon as September. If all goes according to plan, the Falcon Heavy could whisk two paying customers around the moon in 2018.
The world's most powerful rocket, Falcon Heavy, previously known as the Falcon 9 Heavy, is a reusable super heavy lift space launch vehicle being designed and manufactured by SpaceX.
Elon Musk wants to colonize Mars, the tech mogul Elon Musk laid out his vision to colonize Mars with his company SpaceX.
SpaceX Founder, CEO, and Lead Designer Elon Musk discuss the long-term technical challenges that need to be solved to support the creation of a permanent, self-sustaining human presence on Mars. The technical presentation focuses on potential architectures for sustaining humans on the Red Planet that industry, government and the scientific community can collaborate on in the years ahead.
This post was updated to include new comments from Elon Musk made on June 16, 2017.