The steady increase of climate change and crazy weather patterns combined with the increasingly downward turn of political and racial relations in this country make it seem as if the only way to escape negativity is to leave the planet altogether. Okay, okay, that’s a little dramatic, but last week Elon Musk released his new plans for his space exploration technology: SpaceX.
SpaceX designs, manufactures and launches advanced rockets and spacecrafts. The company was founded in 2002 to revolutionize space technology, with the ultimate goal of enabling people to live on other planets. SpaceX has gained worldwide attention for a series of historic milestones. It is the only private company ever to return a spacecraft from low-Earth orbit, which it first accomplished in Dec. 2010. The company made history again in May 2012 when its Dragon spacecraft delivered cargo to and from the International Space Station, a challenging feat previously accomplished only by governments. In 2017, SpaceX successfully achieved the first “reflight” of an orbital class rocket, a historic milestone on the road to full and rapid rocket reusability. SpaceX, which Musk founded in 2002, is known for its disruptive arrival to the commercial space industry. It’s won lucrative contracts sending communications satellites into orbit for corporate giants and delivering cargo to the International Space Station via contracts with NASA, beating out legacy aerospace companies in the process. He created SpaceX with the intent of sending people to live on Mars.
“I think it’s important to have a future that is inspiring and appealing. I just think there has to be reasons that you get up in the morning and you want to live,” Musk said during a TED Talk in April. “If the future does not include being out there among the stars, I find that it’s incredibly depressing.”
The eccentric tech mogul is scheduled to appear Friday at the 2017 International Astronautical Congress in Australia, where he’s expected to unveil a broad update to SpaceX’s plans to colonize Mars. Last year, Musk presented at that same conference with his original idea. Here’s a quick recap of that plan:
SpaceX will build a towering rocket with 42 engines that could be four times more powerful than any rocket ever built. The rocket will carry spaceships, capable of holding about 100 people (plus their luggage), into Earth’s orbit. While the spaceships and their passengers are in orbit, the rocket will return to Earth and quickly prepare to send up another payload: fuel. After multiple fuel deliveries top off the spaceships, and when Mars is in ideal orbital alignment with Earth, the spaceships will begin their trek to Mars. It’s possible that it could take as little as three months for the spaceships to make the long journey. Once on Mars, people will construct, and live in, contained buildings with a compressed atmosphere. Colonizers will also need to build a fuel plant for return trips to Earth. His goal is to eventually get a self-sustaining colony of at least one million people up and running on Mars within 50 to 150 years. Musk said earlier this year the plan has had to “evolve quite a bit.”
If his plan doesn’t both scare and excite you, I don’t know what will.