Will Elon Musk tell us how he plans to pay for the Mars rocket? (credit: Megan Geuss)
Late Friday night—Saturday in Adelaide, Australia where the speech will occur—Elon Musk will give a presentation at the International Astronautical Congress (IAC) meeting about his “updated” plans for a rocket system that will take humans to Mars. On Twitter, Musk has promised to discuss the “planetary colonizer design” in detail.
This speech follows a similar talk at last year’s IAC meeting, in which Musk unveiled the “Interplanetary Transport System” design, with a massive 42-engine rocket capable of hefting as much as 550 tons to low Earth orbit—or about four times the amount of NASA’s Moon rocket, the Saturn V launch vehicle.
This reusable launch system, he said, could begin taking humans to Mars by the mid-2020s.
It was an audacious claim. The proposed spaceship would stand 50 meters tall, atop its rocket, with a maximum diameter of 17 meters.
Instead of departing Earth orbit at 4.5km/s, its six Raptor engines optimized for the vacuum of space would accelerate it to 6 km/s, cutting the journey to Mars from six months to about three.
After launching and being fueled on orbit, the ITS could deliver 100 tons to the surface of Mars.
The largest payload NASA—or anyone—has ever safely landed on the Martian surface is the Curiosity rover, which weighs less than a single ton.
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