SpaceX towed the prototype carbon-fiber fuel tank out to sea for a pressure test during November. It is the largest fuel vessel ever made, according to the company’s CEO Elon Musk.
The tank is a fundamental component of SpaceX’s Interplanetary Transport System (ITS), the reusable rocket-spaceship the company is developing to take people to Mars and back. The piece will pack propellant of the Raptor engines, powering both the spaceship and the rocket.
The Mars Raptor rocket will run on methane and liquid and oxygen
The first mission to the Red Planet is scheduled for 2018, using SpaceX’s Falcon Heavy rocket and the Dragon capsule. The Dragon will land on the Red Planet to test out technologies that will help the ITS land safely.
If the mission goes well, the first ITS trip mission could launch on 2024, according to Elon Musk. Following missions would begin building a city on Mars within the next 50 to 100 years.
Each ITS spacecraft will transport between 100 and 200 people in one trip
The Falcon 9 rocket must be reliable enough to take the Dragon spacecraft into orbit. SpaceX designed the rocket from the ground up to ensure it would fulfill its goals. It is the backbone of the ITS, so it needs to be ready so it can safely complete its mission even if the engine shuts down.
The rocket first delivered the Dragon back in 2012 when it took the spacecraft to the International Space Station. It became the first commercial company to visit the station.
The Dragon is passenger pod of the spacecraft. It can deliver both cargo and people to orbiting destinations and safely return to Earth. In fact, it is the only spacecraft capable of taking heavy loads of cargo back to base.
Since 2012, SpaceX has made multiple flights to the space station delivering cargo for NASA
The private space-traveling company developed the Falcon 9 and the Dragon spacecraft to take humans into space under an agreement with NASA.
Mars colonization is the long goal of billionaire entrepreneur Elon Musk. He said he started SpaceX back in 2002.