American entrepreneur, Tesla CEO, and SpaceX founder Elon Musk lead an Ask Me Anything (AMA) session yesterday with Reddit users to answer some questions about his particular vision for transportation to and eventual living on Mars.
The AMA acted as an informational supplement for his International Astronautical Congress (IAC) address titled ‘Making Humans a Multiplanetary Species,’ uploaded on YouTube on September 27. The Reddit session generated over 5,000 comments.
How would humans get to Mars according to Elon Musk?
SpaceX is currently developing the Interplanetary Transport System (or ITS) booster, announced in 2010, along with the Falcon 9 rocket, which would be used to carry humans into outer space, he addressed both space crafts in several questions.
The Falcon 9 has already tested at NASA sites, but it is still undergoing many changes. Musk noted that a ‘final’ version of the rocket would contain some “minor refinements,” the most relevant being an upgraded thrust system and improved legs.
Redditors noted the ITS booster could hover and asked if astronauts would use this when landing on Mars. Musk answered by claiming that a slower landing would signify a large waste of fuel and advocated for high acceleration landing.
Missions to Mars would begin with the Dragon spaceship, already famous for being the first commercial spacecraft to get to the International Space Station. After the Dragon lands successfully on Mars, the next step is producing water via the chemical Sabatier reaction.
A second mission would involve the Heart of Gold spaceship, named after the one in the famous sci-fi novel ‘The Hitchhiker’s Guide To The Galaxy,’ by Douglas Adams. The Heart of Gold would supply equipment to build a propellant plant, the first to create a sustainable living on the Red Planet.
Where would humans live on Mars?
Musk claimed the first habitats on Mars would live in geodesic domes made out of carbon fiber frames and heavy glass panels. The missions would bring miner and tunneling droids to the Red Planet to also build underground spaces for industrial applications.
He did not add any details on Mars living after question, and mainly focused on ITS technology and characteristics.
What do we need before we can get to Mars?
Another Redditor asked about the technology or material that is necessary before humans can get to Mars. Musk said scientists had to develop a strong alloy what is extremely resistant to oxidation.
He added another big challenge was to seal the carbon fiber tanks and oxygen tanks on board of the spaceships.
He concluded saying experts had not “mastered anything” (any technology) yet. “Maybe starting engines,” he joked.