SpaceX, CEO, Elon Musk interplanetary travel, Making Humans a Multiplanetary Species
SpaceX Founder, CEO, and Lead Designer Elon Musk will 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 will focus on potential architectures for sustaining humans on the Red Planet that industry, government and the scientific community can collaborate on in the years ahead.
Elon Musk interplanetary travel: Artist rendering of a Venus cloud city. At about 80 miles above Venus’ surface, the atmospheric pressure and gravitational forces are pretty comparable to those of Earth and the temperature is a nice, cool 167 degrees Fahrenheit.
Elon Musk interplanetary travel probably writes “try to save the world” at the top of his to-do list every day, above running companies that are revolutionizing energy, transportation, and space travel.
In the next decade, he’s hoping to pioneer humanity’s next great adventure: Interplanetary travel, and colonization of other worlds.
Elon Musk interplanetary travel and SpaceX founder and CEO is set to give a keynote talk, not-modestly titled “Making Humans a Multiplanetary Species,” on the second day of the 67th International Astronautical Congress in Guadalajara, Mexico.
According to the IAC’s announcement: “Musk will 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 will focus on potential architectures for colonizing the Red Planet that industry, government and the scientific community can collaborate on in the years ahead.”
In the most far-field scenario — where humans are surviving and thriving on a planet other than Earth — those challenges include the property politics of camping out on interplanetary soil: Who presides over judging Martian crime? Who’s in charge?
But before they even get that far ahead of themselves, SpaceX will need to answer more pressing issues, like how to keep hydrogen tanks from going boom and how to keep us fragile, fleshy humans from starving on the trip or dying of radiation exposure once we’re on the surface.
All of these questions Musk and team hopes to solve by mid-2020s, when the Interplanetary Transport System aims to haul 100 humans and/or 310 metric tons worth of cargo to the Red Planet.
It’s still not clear if there are ulterior motives to get our asses to Mars and beyond.
Ahead of the keynote, Musk treated his followers to a characteristically candid behind-the-scenes of the rocket engine that’ll blast this whole thing off the ground in the next decade.
With a mostly nitrogen atmosphere and a surface pressure similar to Earth’s, Saturn’s moon Titan could make an interesting home away from home for humanity.
The moon may have water below its surface, and perhaps the ammonia that rains down from the sky would help keep our base camp clean. Maybe just don’t light a match near the lakes of liquid methane.
Other destinations, such as our Moon and Jupiter’s moon Callisto, could be abundant sources of water ice.
That’s important not only to provide drinking water for any potential settlers, but also because water can be split into hydrogen and oxygen.
Oxygen, obviously, is good for breathing. But hydrogen and oxygen together also make rocket fuel, so any colonies set up on these water worlds could become gas stations for solar system exploration.
But What Could Top Mars?
Elon Musk’s interplanetary travel is all about a man with big ambitions.
After he (presumably) sends the first humans to Mars, but before he retires there himself, he’ll likely need some other lofty goals to chase.
We can think of two achievements that would transform humanity’s place in the universe the way colonizing a new planet would.
1. Look for alien life on Europa.
This would not be an easy task, considering the Jovian moon’s potentially life-bearing ocean is buried beneath about 62 miles of ice.
Drilling through all that would be a really big job for a robot, but perhaps if Musk were to send a team of drillers there, Armageddon-style, we could finally answer the question, “Is there alien life on Europa?”
Radiation-bombarded Europa would not be a hospitable place for a human team, but the profound implications of either finding or not finding life on another world would make it worth it to attempt a landing here.
2. Take us to another star system.
Interstellar travel is almost definitely too much to ask even of the spacecraft formerly known as the Mars Colonial Transporter.
Since we’re speculating about the hypothetical destinations of a hypothetical vehicle, we figured why not throw this one in, too.
What’s Actually Next?
The last we heard, SpaceX is planning to launch the interplanetary transporter in 2022, then send it to Mars with human passengers in 2024.
That timeline, like many in spaceflight, will probably turn out to be overly ambitious and subject to delays.
Hopefully we’ll find out more about the spaceship when Musk reveals SpaceX’s architecture for Mars later this month.