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Elon Musk, SpaceX...and the First Manned...

By: Susannah Cord

  • Elon Musk, SpaceX...and the First Manned...

Elon Musks' Sweeping Vision on a 2024 Mars Landing

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The future is here. The future is now. For anyone who has ever wondered where humanity came from and whether we indeed are alone in this vast universe, the answers appear closer than ever. Elon Musk and his Space-X program may be focused on their first mission to Mars, but the consequences of success could be far more profound and far-reaching than simply interplanetary travel. But then, Elon Musk, the CEO and product architect of Tesla, has never been one to think small. If anything, he feels most space programs have not been ambitious enough, a condition that cannot be said to apply to his SpaceX program. Beyond the moon, beyond space travel, Musk seeks to revolutionize space technology and secure the future of humanity by colonizing Mars. Since 2002, his company SpaceX has worked towards this dream, developing spacecraft that have shattered the glass ceiling on space exploration.

  • Elon Musk, SpaceX...and the First Manned...

SpaceX's Falcon Heavy Test this Summer Will Attempt Upper Stage

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Founded with the intention of furthering the development of rocket technology, SpaceX has made consistent progress, from their first space vehicle Falcon 1, to the Falcon 9, a veritable workhorse, with eighteen successful flights in 2017 alone. It is this keen focus on development paired with business acumen, research funded by working rockets that sets SpaceX apart, keeping the technology moving forward and advancing with every rocket made. Like its predecessors, the Falcon Heavy, launched in February 2018, will not only push the boundaries of space travel but deliver payloads for paying customers, including the International Space Station, though on its maiden journey, it was merely tasked with ferrying one of Musk’s Tesla Roadsters into space, now headed for the sun to the music of David Bowie. Pranks aside, like its predecessors, the Falcon Heavy will underwrite the next phase leading to Mars colonization – the BFR, Big Falcon Rocket.

  • Elon Musk, SpaceX...and the First Manned...

Artist's Rendering of the First Big Falcon Rocket to Mars

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The BFR promises to not only further revolutionize space travel but Earth travel, as well. With their reusable crafts and boosters that return to Earth unharmed and recyclable, SpaceX builds towards a future in which it will become affordable to travel via space around the globe, from Los Angeles to New York in twenty-five minutes, Sydney to Singapore in half an hour. The BFR, a large space vehicle riding an enormous booster rocket, will carry hundreds of humans at a time to the Moon, Mars, or destinations much closer to home. Some of the first passengers may well be members of The Planetary Society, who enthusiastically support the aspirations of Musk, applauding the concept of a reusable spaceship as visionary and suggesting his plans will democratize space. Plans meant to pave the way for a better future for all; a future Musk is wasting no time in setting in motion.

  • Elon Musk, SpaceX...and the First Manned...

SpaceX Intends to Send Their First Mission to Mars in 2022

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Famous for deadlines he does not meet, Musk nonetheless continues to set his aspirational goals high and close. SpaceX intends to send their first mission to Mars in 2022, a cargo mission meant to plant the initial seed of a colony. Identifying water resources and potential threats, the first mission would also establish power, locate mining opportunities, and put in place infrastructure for life support. Following close on their heels, the second mission in 2024 would include cargo and crew, with a primary concern being the building of a propellant depot to support future travel. With the most basic infrastructure in place, plans suggest the evolution of a flourishing city that ultimately will become self-sustaining, the stuff of dreams and Gene Roddenberry’s imagination. It will be the fulfillment of the SpaceX mission statement, to make life multi-planetary, and the culmination of Musk’s dream, to secure the future of humanity.

  • Elon Musk, SpaceX...and the First Manned...

Artist's Rendering of the First Big Falcon Rocket Landing on Mars

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It will take more than dreams and mission statements, as Musk well knows. The 106-meter long vehicle known as BFR will be propelled into space by a 58-meter booster, boasting a thrust of 52,700 kN. The BFR must be capable of supporting human life for the up to nine-month journey to Mars and withstand unimaginable heat while entering the Mars atmosphere at 7.5 kilometers per second, a feat it is expected to undergo on countless trips. Reducing speed aerodynamically, one challenge will be the heat shield which will suffer attrition much as a brake pad does, though with possibly rather more dramatic consequences. The rocket that could change travel as we know it presents a formidable challenge, a task welcomed by Musk and SpaceX, even as Musk encourages the world to enter into a new space race, confident nonetheless that the first mission to Mars will be his own.

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