Elon Musk has written his Mars-colonization vision and it is available for everyone for free.
SpaceX’s billionaire founder and CEO has just released the plan, which he discoursed about at a conference in Mexico in September 2016, in the journal New Space. Musk’s commentary, titled “Making Humanity a Multi-Planetary Species,” is available for free on New Space’s website on July 5.
“In my view, publishing this paper provides not only an opportunity for the spacefaring community to read the SpaceX vision in print with all the charts in context, but also serves as a valuable archival reference for future studies and planning.” New Space editor-in-chief (and former NASA “Mars czar”) Scott Hubbard wrote in a statement.
Musk’s Mars vision focuses on a reusable rocket-and-spaceship combo, which is dubbed Interplanetary Transport System (ITS). Both the booster and the spaceship will function on SpaceX’s Raptor engine, still in progress, which Musk said will have the triple power of the Merlin engines that power the company’s Falcon 9 rocket.
ITS rockets will launch the spaceships to Earth orbit, then come back down for a pinpoint landing about 20 minutes later. And “pinpoint” is not hyperbole: “With the addition of maneuvering thrusters, we think we can actually put the booster right back on the launch stand.” Musk wrote in his New Space paper, citing SpaceX’s Falcon 9 first-stage landings.
The ITS boosters will design rockets to fly about 1,000 times each, Musk wrote. The spaceships which will be launched, on the other hand, will hang out in orbit, and then depart once Earth and Mars become collide, which happens every 26 months.
ITS spaceships could be launched to Mars after 10 years, Musk believed. However, he realized that the success is not guaranteed.
“There is a huge amount of risk. It is going to cost a lot.” Musk wrote. “There is a good chance we will not succeed, but we are going to do our best and try to make as much progress as possible.”
When Musk founded the company in 2002, he wrote, “I thought we had maybe a 10 percent chance of doing anything — of even getting a rocket to orbit, let alone getting beyond that and taking Mars seriously.”