Elon Musk just made this terrifying discovery on Mars: SpaceX is almost ready to start building a permanent human settlement on Mars thanks to its Starship rocket. Elon Musk announced at the Mars Society Convention that SpaceX is on track to launch its first unmanned mission to Mars in less than four years.
Musk told Mars Society founder Robert Zubrin, “I think we have a good shot of making the second Mars transfer window.” So, how will Musk do this? Do you think this landing on Mars and colonizing it will happen?
There are about 26 months every 2 years when the Earth and Mars reach their closest point being 38,6 million miles apart. And they are expected to reach their closest point in December. Certainly, there’s one person, Mr. Elon Musk – who’s keeping a close watch on what’s going on.
During his recent speech, he talked about how he and his spaceflight company, SpaceX, plan to travel to Mars one day. There is a possibility that the Starship mission will perform an orbital flight around the Earth no later than March.
However, if Musk’s mission is to have any chance of succeeding in the long run, he must make sure that the rocket’s engine, the Raptor 2, generates enough thrust for Starship to leave the Earth’s orbit and eventually reach Mars.
Musk said, “It’s a spectacular piece of engineering, but extremely difficult to make and succeed at. This engine has been mind-bogglingly difficult, but it is essential to making Starship work.”
He even joked that the Raptor 1 had 180 tons of thrust, and its design looked like “Christmas tree spaghetti.” Well, the Raptor 2 is actually an upgraded version that has 230 tons of thrust-with a goal of 250 by the end of this year. Its new engine burns fuel hotter and can hold significantly more pressure than its predecessor.
In rocket engines, chamber pressure refers to how much fuel and oxidizer can be mixed and ignited, which generates thrust. It’s true that increasing the chamber pressure makes the rocket more powerful, but it also risks melting the engine.
Musk said, “It’s got on the order of a gigawatt of heat. A gigawatt is like what a nuclear power plant produces, so it really is desperately trying to melt at any point in time.” But Musk is worried about the problems with the new engine.
He said in a Press that, “Right now, of any technical problem, I’m spending the most time personally on Raptor 2.” For him, the engine is one of his two most difficult challenges, alongside his role as Tesla.com’s CEO, where he is tasked with improving the company’s buggy Full Self-Driving software.
However, a part of SpaceX’s effort to prevent melting the engine is developing heat shields that can absorb the immense amount of energy that is emitted from the rocket. But Musk hasn’t had trouble with the Raptor 2 just yet.
A Website Space Explored and CNBC reported last year that Musk warned staff of “genuine bankruptcy risk” if SpaceX didn’t fix its production problems. But as of right now he is the richest man on the planet so problems like these should not occur.
He urged his employees to join him in working through the long holiday weekend that follows Thanksgiving. In an internal email cited by the news publications, Musk wrote, “We need all hands on deck to recover from what is, quite frankly, a disaster.”
Musk says that his engineers are “very close to solving” the engine problems, but he is known for being overly optimistic. Musk said in a tweet in December that SpaceX would only make the Raptor 2 model going forward.
After that, he said SpaceX would make five or six Raptor 2 engines, and ramp that up to seven or more in March. So, it is clear to Musk that an engine as powerful as Raptor 2 will be necessary for any human-inhabited base on Mars in the future.
As he stated, “The critical threshold for Mars is to have a city that is self-sustaining. If it’s missing any ingredients at all, however minor that is, then if the ships from Earth stop coming for any reason the city will die out.”
However, while Mr. Musk’s presentation had vivid details about humanity’s interplanetary future, he was more circumspect about the operational details of the massive SpaceX rocket Starship that is crucial to these and other goals.
And as mentioned before, the spacecraft can go to orbit or land astronauts on the moon or colonize Mars, it has to overcome numerous technical and regulatory hurdles. However, Musk said on Thursday night that he thought Starship could establish a self-sufficient city on Mars, which would involve taking a million tons of stuff there from Earth.
“This is the first point in the 4.5-billion-year history of Earth that it has been possible. We need to seize the opportunity and do it as quickly as possible. I want to be frank: Civilization is feeling a little fragile these days, Musk said.” And in response to an animated video of an imaginary Mars colony serviced by SpaceX vehicles, Mr. Musk yelled, “Let’s make it real!”
Over the past few years, SpaceX has tested parts of the spacecraft that are going to orbit, which will then return, showing how it might belly-flop in the atmosphere, then land. In May 2021, one of the flights went well, while the others exploded.
In order to get into orbit, a larger booster stage is needed, called a Super Heavy, with dozens of engines. That still needs testing. Despite this, Mr. Musk has routinely made unrealistic schedule predictions.
When he talked about his Mars rocket in 2016, it was an even larger design, and he predicted that the first test flight to Mars would launch in 2022, and that the first people to go to Mars would take off two years after that. But here we are, right now.
However, in his September 2019 update, Mr. Musk stated that the first orbital flight would take place within six months. Even though 2022 is already here, SpaceX has yet to attempt an orbital launch of the Starship. At Thursday’s talk, he expressed confidence that the review would be completed this year, but he refused to provide specifics.
In his talk at Boca Chica, Texas, near Brownsville, Musk tossed in many bawdy comments while rehashing the vision he’d described in the past, including why humanity needs to expand beyond Earth as a backup plan for survival.
In response to critics who say space exploration is a waste of time and money, he noted how little of the federal budget is actually spent on space exploration and space flight.
So, while referring to the budget for space Musk really said, “I’m just suggesting we’d like maybe half a percent or something, like that would probably be OK.” Then he talked about improvements the company made to Starship’s engines.
In response to Mr. Musk’s description of the intense heat generated by the engine, he said, “The only issue we’re aware of is melting the chamber.” Mr. Musk added, “Just not melting the chamber is very difficult. It’s kind of the last remaining challenge. But I think we’re very close to solving that.”
He was hoping the Federal Aviation Administration would give SpaceX the okay to launch from Boca Chica. “We have gotten sort of a rough indication that there may be an approval in March,” Mr. Musk said. He said that if that happened, an orbital launch attempt could occur in “a couple of months.”
He did admit that if the F.A.A. wanted a more thorough environmental review, SpaceX would move launches to the Kennedy Space Center in Florida, which would take six to eight months to modify the launching pad there.
Aside from eventual trips to Mars, the moon plan of NASA (to send astronauts from orbit around the moon to the surface of the moon) Also needs Starship. The company won a $2.9 billion contract for the mission, beating out Blue Origin, the rocket company founded by Jeff Bezos of Amazon, and Defense contractor Dynetics.
According to the paper, the moon landing is scheduled for 2025, but it’s expected to be delayed. Additionally to Starship, the return of astronauts to the moon will also require the Space Launch System, a large rocket under development by NASA that is also behind schedule.
The Moon mission would also require SpaceX to be able to refill a Starship’s propellant tanks while it’s orbiting Earth. Musk said Starship tankers would launch every few hours to take propellant for the moon rockets.
As Mr. Musk said, he did not see any conflict between the work he is doing for NASA and his bigger dream. He said, “We’re going to make a lot of ships, a lot of boosters. Adding legs to land on the moon, that can be done pretty quickly.”
Moreover, Mr. Musk remained confident that his giant rocket would be a success. Though there would probably be some bumps in the road along the way, he expressed confidence that “we’ll get it done.” Anyways, what do you think of Musk’s ambitions for Mars Colonization? Tell us in the comments.
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