Elon Musk, the visionary founder and CEO of Tesla and SpaceX, has set his sights on colonizing Mars, and his plan to do so has been revealed.
Mars has become the target of a new age space race, with both NASA and the European Space Agency coming up with missions for the Red Planet. President Vladimir Putin has even said that Russia will beat the United States to Mars.
How Elon Musk Will Colonize Mars
In September 2017, Musk presented his plans for Mars colonization at the International Astronautical Congress in Australia. The presentation has now been published on the New Space, which has allowed the article to be accessed for free.
Titled "Making Life Multi-Planetary," the presentation detailed Musk's plans for the Big Falcon Rocket, which will be developed by SpaceX. The BFR, which will be used to send around 100 people to Mars at a time, has been updated to decrease its size and possibly also its price compared to the original design.
The new BFR combines a rocket booster and a ship into a single system that may replace SpaceX's rockets, the Falcon Heavy and Falcon 9, and its Dragon spacecraft. The new design will also be applying the resources that SpaceX is already using for the Falcon Heavy, Falcon 9, and Dragon.
Musk hopes to acquire the necessary funding to pay for the Mars colonization project by allowing the BFR to be used for other applications, including resupplying the International Space Station and cleaning up space junk. It could even be used for super-fast commercial international flights, as it will travel through space.
The BFR will first be sent into Earth's orbit, where it will be refueled before starting the journey to Mars. Musk, however, noted that one of the most important parts of colonizing the Red Planet is being able to make propellants on Mars, which he believes is possible due to the presence of carbon dioxide and water. The propellant will then refuel the BFR to send it back to Earth, with the rocket needing no booster as Mars has a weaker force of gravity.
Musk's Mars Colonization Timeline
Musk previously said that the BFR will be ready to travel to Mars by 2019. However, in the published paper, the timeline to send the first cargo missions to the Red Planet is pegged for 2022.
Musk is then looking to send a pair of cargo missions and crew missions to Mars by 2024 to search for water and construct the plant for manufacturing the propellant that will provide the fuel for the trip back to Earth.
Musk thinks that a self-sustaining Martian city inhabited by a million people may possibly be established with a few decades. The SpaceX CEO will start off with one ship and then will add multiple ships over time before building that city and terraforming Mars for humans.