The Nonsense Papers: A Trip To Mars In The Immediate Future?
By James W. Astrada
Space exploration is the next big feat for humanity as we slowly crawl into the 21st century. The dream and vision of traveling to other star systems is now beyond the realm of fantasy as private corporations try to take the lead in completing the journey. One such corporation SpaceX, has claimed to complete such a feat however there is a catch: the price. According to Elon Musk CEO of SpaceX, the simple price of $500,000 would ensure the passenger safe passage to Mars from Earth. The only question now on everyone’s mind is how will he begin molding this dream into reality.
According to Musk, his passion concerning space travel and the planet Mars are grand indeed. His goal is to have the SpaceX Dragon capsule to be the first commercial vessel to land on Mars successfully. With his report to BBC news, he assured them he would be able to do it soon for the price mentioned. Musk mentioned that the price was both irrelevant and hypothetical however, special news would be disclosed soon about the details on the project. The major point concerning the project dealt with a “budget-rate plan” on two important factors: reusability and refueling. When discussing the ideas he stated to BBC the following:
“My vision is for a fully reusable rocket transport system between Earth and Mars that is able to re-fuel on Mars—this is very important—so you don’t have to carry the return fuel when you go there…… the whole system [must be] reusable—nothing is thrown away. that’s very important because then you’re just down to the cost of propellant……” (BBC News 2012)
The question now is how he would build a refuelling station on Mars, and what exactly the cost would be to get the project running. This idea does sound feasible, however, as far as the price tag goes, logically only the rich would be able to afford such a luxury vacation to the red planet. With all these promises of advancements, besides Virgin, SpaceX seems to rush ahead of the space colonization program to achieve what people have been waiting for decades to do. Musk did reveal in earlier announcements that he was developing a reusable self-landing launch system, however did not go into detail. His major focus was on his rocket called the Falcon Heavy; a heavy lift variant of SpaceX’s plethora of rockets. Can this be done realistically within a short period of time? NASA already suffered a big blow by shutting down the space program earlier in 2010, which allowed China to expand their program. Is it possible that Musk might be in talks with China for his use of rockets? It would seem logical that this might be a possibility due to marketing purposes and getting his rocket out there as quickly as possible. Musk’s idea concerning the “cryogenic propellant storage and transfer” system is also something that NASA plans to work on by the year 2016. Although Musk has great ideas that would probably be feasible within the realms of reality, he will have to address the mistakes SpaceX had in relations to the ISS ordeal back in December 2011 (in relation to the Soyuz) to ready the Dragon capsule for the April 30 launch this year. If successful, then he will be one step close to achieve his Martian dream of landing there.
All ideas seem to be in order, and the only hope now is to allow for cheaper alternatives for Martian travel. I myself am fascinated by Mars which is why I am excited for the upcoming news that Musk will release hopefully in the coming months. It seems the old phrase “get your ass to Mars” might be a possibility in the near future. As always, our hopes and eyes will be open to making this reality come true one step at a time.
Max Eddy. “Historic SpaceX Flight to International Space Station delayed until December.” Geek-O-System. October, 2011.
Periscope Post staff. “NASA shuts down shuttle programme , but few seem to care about the final frontier.” The Periscope Post. July, 2011.
Max Eddy. “Elon Musk Says He Can Get to Mars for $500,000 a Person, But How?” Geek-O-System. March 21, 2012.
Staff Writers. “SpaceX, NASA readies for April 30 launch. To ISS” Spacetravel.com. March 20, 2012.
©James Astrada 2012