Elon Musk has unveiled the Interplanetary Transport System – a spaceship which the mogul claims will help humankind reach Mars.
Elon Musk isn’t a man to likes to rest on his laurels.Â Speaking at theÂ International Astronautical Conference in Mexico yesterday, Musk unveiled his plans to get humankind to Mars, as well as a means to get there: the Interplanetary Transport System.
Musk didn’t beat around the bush; citing thatÂ “There are two fundamental paths: we stay on Earth forever and there will be a mass extinction event. Or we become a multi-planet species,”Â the Tesla and SpaceX founder intends to send an unmanned capsule to Mars by 2018, while a manned flight would follow in 2024.
Musk elaborated that a new rocket using 42 Raptor engines – which SpaceX debuted on Sunday – would propel a new vessel dubbed the Interplanetary Transport System (ITS) into Earth’s orbit.
Using the reusable rocket technology SpaceX has been pioneering, the vessel’s booster would detach and land back on Earth to be used. At that point, a second fuel tanker would launch to meet the ITS and fuel it, allowing the vessel to begin its long journey to Mars.
The vessel – which would also rely on solar panels – would arrive on Mars after an 80-150 day journey. Upon arrival, Martian colonists would need to manufacture fuel to begin the process of returning home. Mars, thankfully, is rich with the resources necessary to create a methane-based fuel.
The ITS would be able to carry 100 people, and aims to reduce the cost of sending one person to Mars. whereas it would cost $10 billion to send a single person with current technologies, Elon Musk plans to reduce that figure to roughly $200,000 USD thanks to the use of reusable materials.
Musk cited that each booster could be used 1,000 times, each tanker 100 times, and each spaceship 12 times.
However, Musk’s plan can’t eliminate the danger of heading to a new world.Â “I think the first journeys to Mars will be very dangerous… Are you prepared to die? If you are, you can be a candidate for going” the business mogul said.
However, it’s hard not to become idealistic about escaping Earth and living on an entirely new planet. Musk offered thatÂ “It’s less about who goes first… What matters is making a self-sustaining civilization on Mars. It’s minimizing existential risk and having a tremendous sense of adventure.”
While there are still several unknowns – such as how radiation would affect passengers making the journey to Mars – Elon Musk remains adamant his vision will work, revealing thatÂ “I’m personally accumulating assets just to fund this”.
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