Elon Musk aims to one-day colonize Mars and, according to the billionaire, getting there is not the issue – it is surviving on the Red Planet that will be challenging.
The SpaceX CEO shared progress on the firm’s Starship rocket during the virtual Humans to Mars Summit, saying the craft ‘is making progresses,’ but also raised concerns about building a base on the planet.
Musk suggested constructing a self-sustaining city will be ‘difficult’ and there will be a number of dangers settlers may face while developing the galactic civilization.
‘I want to emphasize, this is a very hard and dangerous and difficult thing,’ Musk said.
‘Not for the faint of heart. Good chance you’ll die. And it’s going to be tough, tough going, but it’ll be pretty glorious if it works out.’
Musk has had his heart set on colonizing Mars for years and has not been shy about how he plans to make it happen.
The key to turning this dream into a reality will be SpaceX’s massive Starship rocket, which is has been undergoing tests and construction at the firm’s Boca Chica facility in Texas.
Based on his projections, SpaceX would need to build 1,000 rockets over a nine-year period in order to take one million people to Mars.
‘We’re making good progress,’ Musk said, as reported on by CNBC.
‘The thing that really impedes progress on Starship is the production system.’
‘A year ago there was nothing there and now we’ve got quite a lot of production capability. So we’re rapidly making more and more ships.’
SpaceX has ramped up productions at Boca Chica in a bid to get the Starship off the ground.
The firm conducted the first ‘hop’ of the rocket last month, which saw the vehicle soar nearly 500 feet in the air and land safely back on the ground.
Musk unveiled the first Starship prototype in 2019, with the main objective of sending humans to Mars.
The CEO had hoped the rocket would be soaring in low orbit by March of this year and have people inside by the end of 2020.
However, the Starship program has seen a number of bumps since 2019, which Musk touched on in the Monday interview.
‘I hope we do a lot of flights,’ Musk said. ‘The first ones might not work. This is uncharted territory.
‘Nobody has ever made a fully reusable orbital rocket. So just having that at all is pretty significant.’
Although there has been numerous setbacks, Musk is now aiming for the rocket’s first orbital test flight in 2021.
The team is gearing up to add the nose to the rocket, which will being the rocket to around 164 feet tall, and is set to begin construction of the first Super Heavy booster prototype ‘this week.’
The Super Heavy is the large bottom half of Starship rocket, which has most of the engines and is used during the beginning of a launch.
Musk has shared that an operational Starship could carry more than 220,000 pounds of cargo to low Earth obit.
He said that engineers have tweaked the design of the Super Heavy booster by increasing the thrust of its Raptor engines, allowing SpaceX to remove several Raptors from the design.
‘So it might be 28 engines,’ Musk said. ‘That’s still a lot of engines. We’ll also end up cranking up the thrust on the engines.’
An outer ring of engines on the Super Heavy booster will have fixed nozzles, while an inner group of eight Raptors will vector their thrust to steer the rocket during takeoff and landing.
WHAT IS ELON MUSK’S ‘BFR’?
The BFR (Big F***ing Rocket), now known as Starship, will complete all missions and is smaller than the ones Musk announced in 2016.
The SpaceX CEO said the rocket would take its first trip to the red planet in 2022, carrying only cargo, followed by a manned mission in 2024 and claimed other SpaceX’s products would be ‘cannibalised’ to pay for it.
The rocket would be partially reusable and capable of flight directly from Earth to Mars.
Once built, Musk believes the rocket could be used for travel on Earth – saying that passengers would be able to get anywhere in under an hour.