Elon Musk has piqued our interest by adamantly claiming we can host manned-missions to Mars by 2024 in his latest update about the goings-on at SpaceX.
For those not in the know, Elon Musk is a Canadian-American investor, engineer and inventor. He has a belt of many interesting titles including CEO of SpaceX, cofounder of SolarCity and chairman of OpenAI. This haul of accolades has led him to become the 21st most influential person in the Forbes list of The Most Powerful & Influential.
His SpaceX update in September received a round of applause when he said we will reach Mars in around five years time, after which he then pointed-out that five years is actually a long time because we should have done it already.
His optimism continued as he spoke of landing two cargo ships on Mars in 2022 and two more in 2024, along with two manned ships.
The initial ships would be able to carry two to three people per cabin, with there being forty cabins in total on board. At a squeeze, six people could fit in one cabin, which means that in later years up to 240 people will be able to travel to Mars in one single trip.
He outlined that the initial crew of the first two ships would effectively be planet pioneers as they would establish base colonies and breathable areas on Mars’ surface.
Over the years the habitable areas would grow into habitable villages, then into habitable towns and into habitable cities and then eventually an entirely new habitable planet to call our own.
Of course, there have been many speculations raised about Musk’s over-optimistic view on the entire affair, with even NASA astronauts claiming that it can’t be done, at least not for another thirty years.
Musk claims, however, that it is entirely possible as the rockets SpaceX is developing would be able to travel faster than their previous counterparts. He even went as far as saying that they could be used on Earth to transport 100 passengers to anywhere on the planet in under an hour.
In the update, Musk even spoke of lunar bases and in his words “It’s 2017-we should have a lunar base by now” intrigued some, whilst eluding others. His claims on cost were even more eluding with Musk asserting that the cost of a seat on a rocket to Mars would be about the same price as “full economy fare on an aircraft”.
When people questioned him about fuel and resources, Musk said that the rockets would have mining equipment on board to excavate resources such as fuel and water from beneath Mars’ surface, thus making living and returning to Earth possible.
Over the years we have lost sight of what is important about space travel – Musk has made us realise what that is.
However, some argue that Musk’s plan is not viable as he hasn’t accounted for the implications that could occur on a flight to Mars, including cosmic radiation blasts that could kill the onboard crew and even the amount of time it actually takes to travel to there.
Mars is over 140 million miles away from Earth, so it would take approximately one year to get there, leading some to claim that Musk has not accounted for issues with rocket propulsion which could also add to the overall journey time.
Musk’s claims on our ability to reach Mars have definitely been far out (excuse the pun) but maybe that is what we need. Over the years we have lost sight of what is important about space travel and Musk has made us realise what that is; it’s our human need to explore, to colonise, to expand, and to start anew. We cannot do this on Earth anymore.