SpaceX has been pushing the boundaries since its inception. Elon Musk, the founder and CEO of SpaceX, has rapidly expanded his company and ambitions to encompass many feats once thought impossible for a private space corporation to accomplish. Since its inception in 2002, SpaceX has developed 3 different classes of rockets, built and tested a functioning crew capsule, performed countless missions for the military and private companies, sent numerous supply missions to the International Space Station, and landed and relaunched a number of rocket stages.
These are accomplishments which should not be taken lightly. These rapid developments have shown that SpaceX has the ability to take on incredible technical challenges and accomplish them. The next immediate goals for the company are now to have more frequent launches with the Falcon Heavy, which launched successfully earlier in 2018, and to have a manned flight in the dragon space capsule. However, these are just minor goals along the way to accomplishing Elon’s master plan.
From the beginning, the plan has been to get to Mars, period. Elon has stated numerous reasons why he wants this, the most important being the survival of our species. As we now know, our planet is fragile and humanity has not had a good impact on it. If we continue on the same pace as we are now, our planet may one day be inhospitable. Or who knows, maybe a giant asteroid will hit our planet and cause massive devastation. Regardless of what happens, Mars can be seen as a life boat for humanity itself. On its surface are all the materials needed for humans to survive and, perhaps one day, to thrive. We have discovered water, oxygen can be extracted from the CO2 currently making up the Martian atmosphere, and building materials are readily available. A self-sustaining colony would take decades of development, cost billions of dollars, and provide little economic incentive, however, those are problems for another day. The first step is to get there.
So far SpaceX has only ventured outside our planet’s gravity once. Essentially an intergalactic shot in the dark to show they are serious about Mars. The secondary goal of the inaugurating test flight of the Falcon Heavy, currently the world’s most powerful rocket, was to put a Tesla Model S into orbit around Mars. However, this did not go according to plan and the Tesla missed the mark and is now in orbit around the Sun instead. Regardless of the minor directional control issues on the later stage, this launch showed that SpaceX could successfully launch a huge multistage rocket and delivery a payload deep into interstellar space. Even though the Falcon Heavy has been active for less than a year, SpaceX is already beginning to develop its next rocket, the one that will send mankind for Mars.
This rocket has been named Starship and its specs are impressive. It will be almost 400 feet tall, supply about 14 million pounds of thrust, and be able to send over 100,000 kilograms of equipment to the surface of Mars. The plan right now is to send the rocket into Low Earth Orbit (LEO) around the Earth and then refuel it for the journey to Mars. This allows the rocket to carry more supplies more efficiently. This rocket will also be completely reusable and be capable of making multiple trips to and from Mars, drastically reducing the cost of each flight. Even though it is still in the development phase, this rocket has the power to send mankind to its next evolutionary step. Similar to the Saturn V which carried Neil Armstrong to the moon, or even the Santa Maria which sent Columbus to the New World, this ship, carrying Elon Musk’s vision, has the power to carry the torch of humanity to a new planet. Expect big news from SpaceX in the next decade.