Elon Musk Is Focusing SpaceX On Missions To The Moon And Mars
After successfully launching two NASA astronauts into space, Elon Musk has revealed SpaceX will now turn its attention to developing the next-generation spacecraft Starship to help humankind reach Mars.
The spacecraft was first unveiled in September of last year, and is designed to carry astronauts and cargo ‘to the moon, Mars, or anywhere else in the solar system,’ according to Musk.
It’s hoped that the SpaceX team will be able to develop the spaceflight vehicles until they’re reusable, in the same way we continuously reuse aeroplanes. However, these flights will differ in that they will land back on Earth perpendicularly instead of horizontally like we’re used to.
In 2016, Musk made it his mission to build a colony on Mars ‘in our lifetimes’, predicting the first rocket taking people there will be in 2025. He has since tweeted he believes we could create a self-sustaining city on the planet by 2050 ‘if we start in five years’, and has often used imagery of an Earth-like city on Mars in promotional material.
His plans have widely been regarded as perhaps a little too ambitious, with a NASA-sponsored study in 2018 dismissing the plans as impossible with the technology we have today.
According to plans released by Musk four years ago, the mission to colonise Mars will come in two stages. In 2022, at least two unmanned Starship rockets will land on Mars, containing drones and robots that will be able to confirm if there are resources of water on the red planet. Then, in 2024 another two Starship rockets will land on Mars with the first astronauts, Sky News reports.
The spacecrafts will also bring a number of production plants for ongoing life on the planet, as well as host of equipment and supplies that will be needed for the astronauts to survive.
Following on from the success of May’s launch to the International Space Station, NASA has separately been given a boost for a new moon landing programme, which will see humans back on the moon by 2024.
The Artemis programme, named after the mythological sister of Apollo, plans to fly the first woman to the moon and will be seen as a stepping stone on the journey to Mars.
Meanwhile, SpaceX and Blue Origin have been asked to develop the lunar landers, which will take the first woman and next man to the moon.
In May, SpaceX and NASA successfully launched astronauts from US soil for the first time in almost a decade.
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