Wednesday, September 28, 2016

The SpaceX Plan for Mars

SpaceX video on their plan to send people to Mars. Elon Musk gave a major presentation on this plan at the International Astronautical Congress this week. It strikes me as much more feasible than the Mars One plan, but of course that is a very low bar. The huge rocket that would start the mission would be bigger than a Saturn V, and Musk thinks it would cost $10 billion to develop. The plan is to power it with 42 rocket engines, the new "Raptor" model that SpaceX is just now testing. Of course the reason the Soviets never got to the Moon was that their 30-engine N-1 booster blew up every time they tested it, so right there is a huge engineering challenge. Musk envisions a slow, six-month flight, in zero gravity with minimal shielding, and he said at the meeting that he isn't going because he wants to see his kids grow up.

It is certainly possible to get people to Mars. But it will cost hundreds of billions of dollars, and right now I can't see the US or anyone else making the investment.

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