This Sunday in Austin, Texas at the SXSW Festival, Elon Musk announced that next year in 2019, the mars ship will go through short test flights. In his announcement, Musk highlighted the importance of space exploration and reaching mars before the next world war, especially before a nuclear war, “I think it’s unlikely that we’ll never have a world war again… this has been our pattern in the past”.
This year, February 6th, SpaceX surprised the world with the successful Falcon Heavy flight, now SpaceX is building BFR (Big Falcon Rocket) for the travel to Mars, Musks stated, “I think we’ll be able to do short flights, up and down flights”. He hopes BFR will land on Mars in 2022 with cargo, then sending people and ultimately, making Mars a self-sustaining colony– a very ambitious goal. He commented it would pose entrepreneurial opportunities. The BRF could even clean space by collecting old satellites, he added.
“People have told me that my timelines historically have been ‘optimistic… I’m trying to ‘recalibrate’ to some degree here”, he added.
Although for Musk, colonizing Mars is ideal, there are many other obstacles… it is harder than it sounds. Mars is twice as far from the Sun as the Earth is, so it is exposed to less radiation, however it does not have a magnetosphere, so the red planet is completely vulnerable to the sun. Its environment is very harsh and dry, its temperatures fluctuate from -55°C at the surface and -125 °C at the poles, with an atmosphere too thin to retain heat. Not only this but the gravity is 40% of what it is on Earth and its atmosphere is 95% carbon dioxide, making it more difficult for humans to adapt to the environment. However, Musk is not the only one with eyes on Mars.
NASA already has a mission to Mars for exploration, planned for 2030 with the Orion Multi-Purpose Crew Vehicle (MPCV) and the Space Launch System (SLS). Likewise, the European Space Agency (ESA) intents sending humans, while the Russian Federal Space Agency Roscosmos is also planning a similar mission. Furthermore, in 2012, plans of a crowdfunded campaign by a Dutch organization were created, they are planning to establish a base in Mars in 2023 called Mars One. They intent to use SpaceX’s Falcon Heavy ship to launch hardware.
The challenges of colonizing and even reaching Mars are abundant. However, this does not stop the ambition of various organization and investors such as Elon Musk in their aspirations to land in the fascinating planet.
Many believe that the hope and survival of humanity lies out there in space: in that little red planet called Mars.