The mastermind and CEO behind SpaceX recently laid out his plans for putting human bootprints on Mars in an article for the journal New Space that details his upcoming Big Falcon Rocket (BFR) and how it’s going to land our species on the Red Planet. Musk will eventually phase out his already impressive Falcon 9 and Falcon Heavy rockets for the BFR so he can fly his first cargo missions to Mars in 2022, with manned missions following just two years later.
Musk probably imagined the reactions to this, which is why he felt it was necessary to include that 2022 was not a typo.
“I feel fairly confident that we can complete the ship and be ready for a launch,” Musk said. “The area under the curve of resources over that period of time should enable this time frame to be met, but if not this time frame, I think pretty soon thereafter.”
SpaceX has already started building the system, including the facility and main tanks, with the construction of his behemoth ship planned for next summer. With Earth and Mars synchronizing every two years, he is looking to use that opportunity to launch the BFR cargo mission within that window of time, then to send off the manned mission that has NASA shaking their heads during the next synchronization.
That subsequent mission will consist of two cargo ships and two ships carrying astronauts who will be taking the next giant leap for mankind. The two unmanned ships that completed the first mission will have already found the most viable source of water, and with the arrival of the second mission, the main objective will turn into building a propellant depot. Musk feels that six ships should mean enough landed mass to build the depot, which will involve a massive array of solar panels, and mine for water that will be converted into fuel for what he envisions will expand into an entire colony.
“The base starts with one ship, then multiple ships, then we start building out the city and making the city bigger, and even bigger," Musk described his ambition. "Over time terraforming Mars and making it really a nice place to be.”
Musk is obviously confident that terraforming the inhospitable non-atmosphere of Mars will be possible even when scientists think otherwise. Studies have shown that there is not enough hidden water on the Martian surface to separate CO2 from and cause the greenhouse effect that would terraform the otherwise barren, freezing planet, but Musk believes we can just nuke the polar ice caps.
“Becoming a multi-planet species beats the hell out of being a single-planet species,” he admitted.
You don’t get more Elon Musk than that.