Elon Musk just held a press conference revolving around his “multiplanetary species” campaign and, while a large part of his presentation recapped SpaceX’s adventures and misadventures, the ambitious luminary didn’t fail to impart some extraordinary plans as well. By now, it is no secret that he plans to set up camp on Mars and even on the moon. But it seems that Musk’s dream of making life multiplantery will also come back full circle to make life here on Earth just as spectacular.
Musk has been known to make comments and commitments that even some of the industry’s top names have considered to be the ravings of a madman. His latest update on SpaceX mandate to get humans on Mars sooner rather than later is bound to get just as much criticism. In fact, he might have just increased the number of critics, pulling in from a slightly different industry.
The SpaceX and Tesla CEO believes that, by now, we should already have had a base on the moon. It won’t be as sophisticated as his Martian plans, but it will also simpler to get there and back. Owing to fuel efficiency, physics, and the fact a rocket will no longer have a payload on the return trip, Musk proposes that a first stage rocket can launch from the Moon and make it back to Earth without needing to refuel on the Moon.
Getting back from Mars, however, is a different story. Not only do you need to refuel from a tanker in space, you will also need to refuel before leaving Mars. That fuel will come from chemical processes that utilize carbon dioxide and water that is already present on Mars. That is why SpaceX’s first two Martian missions will be for surveying the resources and hazards in order to study the feasibility of building a propellant depot, which is critical to what’s to come next.
Musk believes that all the pieces, including reusable rockets and the BFR, will already be in place by 2022, when it plans to launch at least two cargo missions for that purpose. Should that prove to be successful, SpaceX will take advantage of the Earth-Mars sync that happens every two years and will launch four missions in 2024. That includes 2 crewed missions, which will take what he believes the first humans on Mars. These missions will be finding the best sources of water and finally laying the building blocks for a Martian power plant. Over time, that single station will grow into the Martian colony of Musk’s dreams.
But while keeping his eyes on the prize beyond the skies, Musk also has plans for those left behind. He muses that life can be so much better if the same technology we use to get us to the Moon and Mars can also be utilized to get us to places here on Earth. In short, he proposes using those same BFRs to ferry people across the globe, the same way planes already do. Except those long distance trips could take less than half an hour instead of half a day.
Amusingly, Elon Musk’s talk takes just as long. You can watch it in full below, with Musk coming on stage around the 26 minute mark.