One Step Closer to Living on Mars

 

 

CRS-3 Dragon in orbit  (Photo provided by: SPACEX.com)
CRS-3 Dragon in orbit (Photo provided by: SPACEX.com)
Helen Jarden
Editor-in-Chief

The future of space colonization is one step closer since the CEO of SpaceX, Elon Musk, announced on Sept. 27 that they plan to establish a million person Mars colony within the next hundred years.

At the International Astronautical Congress in Guadalajara, Mexico, Musk revealed the company’s Interplanetary Transport System, which will be capable of carrying a minimum of 100 people to Mars per flight.

“This system really gives you freedom to go anywhere you want in the greater solar system,” Musk said.

The spacecraft, which is designed to be reusable, will be essential to establishing a colony on Mars. Using SpaceX’s own Raptor engine, the ITS will be able to make the trip to Mars in about 80 days.

Elon Musk made it clear that he wanted this to be a trip that people would be willing to take, which is why the ITS will include movie theaters, restaurants, and other entertainment areas.

“It’ll be, like, really fun to go,” Musk said. “You’ll have a great time.”

SpaceX already has plans to test a trip to Mars, using their famous “Dragon” spacecraft. The “Dragon” is the only free-flying spacecraft capable of moving large amounts of cargo from and to Earth.

NASA is currently working with SpaceX to make this spacecraft suitable for a crew to fly in. According to SpaceX’s website, the Dragon’s first manned test flight is expected to take place in 2-3 years. To see an in-depth overview of this spacecraft, visit spacex.com/dragon.

However, in order for Mars’ colonizations to be achieved, these grand plans require a lot of public and private funding. For passengers, the trip to Mars is going to expensive, with tickets per person estimated to cost $500,000 at first.

Musk added that these tickets would most likely drop to a third of that price once the first few trips were made.

Some people, such as Scott Pace, Director of the Space Policy Institute at George Washington University, have been vocal about their doubts about SpaceX’s plans. According to the New York Times, Pace said that the plans were “possible, but not probable.”

These doubts are mostly fueled by the lack of profit this Mars venture is likely to bring, along with the possible dangers of the mission. Musk himself admitted that he would not be one of the first colonists, as the chances of dying were quite high.

“I like SpaceX’s aggressiveness in the timing. Too fast and the teams will make mistakes and too slow a pace and people will lose interest. Elon has the money today for a modest effort and he needs to move before he gets old or loses his fortune,” said Paul Meyers, astronomy professor at L&C.

Meyers continued, “as a new engineer I remember 380,000 scientists and engineers built a moon mission to land a man on moon before the end of the 60s decade. The need to go to Mars is a challenge for the new generation. […] The USA needs a challenge.”

It seems that challenge has been accepted. SpaceX’s big announcement has prompted the United States to reveal plans of their own.

On Oct. 12, President Obama revealed in a letter he wrote for CNN that the U.S. plans to have astronauts reach Mars by 2030.

We have set a clear goal vital to the next chapter of America’s story in space: sending humans to Mars by the 2030s and returning them safely to Earth, with the ultimate ambition to one day remain there for an extended time,” Obama wrote.

To read more of Obama’s plans, visit http://cnn.it/2dYreDg.

People alive today can look forward to seeing the first astronauts land on Mars, and future generations may possibly look forward to living there. Whether it is through SpaceX or NASA, it is clear that future of interplanetary travel is getting much brighter.

hjarden@lc.edu
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