After giving a headlines-grabbing speech where described the future colonization of Mars, SpaceX founder Elon Musk recently held an Ask Me Anything session on Reddit where he expanded on both his Mars settlement vision and the Interplanetary Transit System (ITS) his company is currently developing.
One of the major revelations of the AMA session was when Musk said ITS would be strong enough return to Earth right after landing on Mars at any time, a challenge that would be particularly difficult if the two planets are far apart in their orbits. This capability would be particularly important for situations where an immediate emergency mission to or from Mars is necessary to save lives.
`Preparing for the ITS
Musk also said SpaceX is around a year or two away from unveiling how the ITS design. We “will aim to release details of the habitation section when we have actual live mockups.”
The ITS will probably also be configurable, with the system suited more for cargo than travelers during initial missions.
“First crewed mission would have about a dozen people, as the goal will be to build out and troubleshoot the propellant plant and Mars Base Alpha power system,” Musk wrote.
The tech and space exploration mogul said they may be changing the name “Interplanetary Transport System” to something else: “I’m using BFR and BFS for the rocket and spaceship, which is fine internally, but…“
Msuk has also said that his interplanetary travel system would likely refuel on Mars, with resources mined from the Red Planet. However, SpaceX scientists are still in the initial stages of how this would work, the company would probably send “Dragon scouting missions, initially just to make sure we know how to land without adding a crater and then to figure out the best way to get water for the CH4/O2 Sabatier Reaction.”
After successful scouting missions, the fuel plant would be shipped to Mars and a manned mission would finish the station, Musk said.
As for a Mars settlement, the tech mogul envisions geodesic domes made from glass panes with carbon fiber frames, “plus a lot of miner/tunneling droids. With the latter, you can build out a huge amount of pressurized space for industrial operations and leave the glass domes for green living space.”
Image credit: SpaceX
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