Elon Musk, CEO and Founder of Space Exploration Technologies, also known as SpaceX, wants astronauts to travel to Mars within the next 10 to 20 years and desires mankind to become a multi-planet species. Is this adventurism realistic?
The idea of sending a team of astronauts to Mars is not new. Authors have written about the spaceflight for decades, while scientists have considered various proposals on how to make science-fiction become real.
There are many circumstances that can prevent the human species from travelling to the Red Planet. Some of these setbacks include rocket fuel, space radiation – astronauts could face a 39 percent chance of developing cancer – budget, weight of the craft and priorities.
Astronomers, scientists and researchers are confident, though, that humans will eventually make their way to our neighbor. One eager businessman is looking to do more than just travel to Mars – he wants to save mankind by making us into a multi-planet species.
Speaking in San Diego Monday at the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics, SpaceX CEO and Founder, Elon Musk, asked the audience an in-depth and serious question: “Ultimately, the thing that is super-important in the grand scale of history is, are we on a path to becoming a multiplanet species or not?”
The primary reason why SpaceX was established was to create a lasting human presence beyond Earth, which is why Musk is proposing space flight to Mars within the next 10 to 20 years – a number that exceeds NASA’s 35-year (minimum) plan.
But why would Musk want astronauts to go to Mars? Musk explains that if mankind stays put on Earth then it’s not going to be a “very bright future. We'll simply be hanging out on Earth until some eventual calamity claims us.”
According to Musk, astronauts would make the nine-month journey to Mars by utilizing its Dragon Capsule.
The craft now delivers cargo and staff to the International Space Station. SpaceX is also in the process of developing Falcon Heavy, a heavy-lift rocket that would blast Dragon towards Mars.
Musk earlier announced a demonstration of Falcon Heavy for late 2012/early 2013.
As mentioned before, one flight to Mars is expensive, but multiple trips are even more costly. At the present time, it costs thousands of dollars for one pound of rocket fuel. In order to settle on Mars with several hundred thousand humans, rocket fuel would have to be reduced to $50 per pound, notes Space.com.
“There's a reason that nobody has invented a fully reusable rocket before,” said Musk. “It's super damn hard. I think we've got something that on paper closes, and we'll see if that turns out to be reality as well.”
NASA will announce a “significant new Mars science find” Thursday afternoon.