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Musk’s Mission to Mars


Elon Musk provided an update on his quest to colonise Mars at the International Astronautical Congress in Adelaide, where he described a reusable rocket to overcome cost barriers and an ambitious schedule to land cargo missions on Mars by 2022.

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“Elon Musk’s vision for human space flight is exciting, timely, and truly fascinating. One hundred per cent reusability of rocket components, refuelling in orbit rather than on a planet or moon’s surface, and using widely accessible and inexpensive fuels like methane and oxygen are major parts of this vision. Space-X has made huge strides towards this reusability this year.

The time lines are very ambitious, including setting the year 2022 for two cargo ships to go to Mars, but 5 years is also a significant amount of time. The Apollo program’s time line was not very different.

If even a small part of this vision can be implemented then Elon Musk and Space-X will allow humanity to make major steps to the Moon, to Mars and beyond much faster than existing plans. Yes, there are undoubtedly major challenges to overcome, including the effects of space weather (e.g. radiation events due to solar flares) and issues with closed life support and maintenance systems, but we should explore the major potential benefits to Space-X’s approach and consider supporting the parts we deem viable and transformational.”

Professor Iver Cairns is a Professor in Space Physics at The University of Sydney and incoming Director of the ARC Training Centre for CubeSats, UAVs and Their Applications.

“Elon Musk is impressive. He shows what intelligence and...

The full text of this article can be purchased from Informit.