SpaceX’s CEO Elon Musk’s vision for future manned trips to other planets, and specifically the requisites to create a self-sustaining city on Mars, has been presented in a study. Published in the journal New Space, in the study Musk explores the planetary options for expanding to a space-bearing civilization and describes the advantages Mars offers. “By talking about the SpaceX Mars architecture, I want to make Mars seem possible — make it seem as though it is something that we can do in our lifetime. There really is a way that anyone could go if they wanted to,” Musk said. According to Musk, humanity will face an eventual extinction event.
“The alternative is to become a space-bearing civilisation and a multi-planetary species,” he stated. Why only Mars? It is resource-rich and has 24.5 hours and is far better-suited ultimately to scale up to be a self-sustaining civilisation. However, one major challenge faced by engineers and scientists to create a self-sustaining city is the need to improve the cost per tonne of transporting materials to the red planet by five million per cent, Musk said. Further, the paper also provides a comprehensive review of a system architecture required for a rocket and spaceship capable of transporting people and supplies to Mars, comparing possible vehicle designs and performance features.
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“If things go super-well, it might be in the 10-year timeframe, but I do not want to say that is when it will occur. There is a huge amount of risk and going to cost a lot,” Musk said. “There is a good chance we will not succeed, but we are going to do our best and try to make as much progress as possible,” he noted.