SpaceX founder Elon Musk has a goal for humans in the next several decades: establish a colony on Mars.
Speaking yesterday at the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics conference in San Diego, Musk said it's time to start working on getting humans to Mars and establishing a mode of transportation that would make it more possible.
"Ultimately, the thing that is super important in the grand scale of history is, are we on a path to becoming a multi-planet species or not?" Musk said during his keynote address, according to PC Magazine. "If we're not, that's not a very bright future. We'll just be hanging out on Earth until some eventual calamity claims us."
To get the ball rolling, Musk said, a spacecraft that can carry the payload humans need to establish a base on Mars is most important. However, Musk acknowledged, doing so will be extremely "hard." He pointed out that a Mars trip will require a craft capable of carrying "50 metric tons in a fully reusable manner." SpaceX has a Falcon Heavy rocket that can carry 12 to 15 metric tons.
The Falcon Heavy could very well become the inspirational predecessor to any vehicle that gets people to Mars. Last month, SpaceX announced that it had broken ground on the Heavy's launch site at the Vandenberg Air Force Base in Southern California. The spacecraft, which is expected to be brought to the launch site by the end of next year, can generate 140,000 pounds of thrust at sea level. And although it's meant to assist with low-Earth orbit missions, Musk said earlier this year that it could also explore space and send people to the moon.… Read more