SpaceX: SES-8 Delivery Suggests Mars Colony by 2023

SpaceX wants to take us to Mars
SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket engine

SpaceX’s Tuesday evening launch  wowed the world with a successful Falcon 9 mission that delivered an SES-8 communications satellite to a geostationary orbit, suggesting that SpaceX really is the designer and manufacturer of the world’s most advanced rockets and spacecraft- next up for SpaceX: colonizing Mars by 2023.

SpaceX Design LLC suggests that they will deliver humanity’s first colony to the Red Planet.

SpaceX served a speculative international community its first slice of real commercial success when the company’s Dragon Capsule rendezvoused with the International Space Station in 2012. Since then their Falcon 9 rocket platform has had a series of successes that culminated on December 3rd with their nationally televised success.

But Mars?

The Mars One Foundation, a Netherlands based organization, announced its plans for a “permanent human settlement on Mars” in 2012, and since that time people from around the world have paid for the opportunity to be considered for the one-way-trip to the Red Planet; more than 200,000 applicants have applied as of September of this year.

The Mars One Foundation’s website is for real. They intend to have the first round of colonists space-bound by 2022. The transit is anticipated to take 210 days and cover more than 50 million miles.

The team, including the mission’s advisers, have legitimate credentials and experience. They are made up of specialists from a broad range of disciplines including space medicine and NASA / ESA level mission planning, but none of them are space-ship manufacturers.

That’s where SpaceX comes in.

The mars-one.org website is filled with technical generalities pertaining to the mission, and their technology page suggests that the mission will be using SpaceX Design’s next generation of rocket, the Falcon Heavy. Anticipating the need of “several rocket launches” to take the payloads from Earth to Mars, the site states:

“Mars One anticipates using Space X Falcon Heavy, an upgraded version of the Falcon 9, which is in use by Space X currently. The Falcon Heavy is slated to undergo test flights in 2014, granting ample time for fine-tuning [before the Mars One mission].”

Concerns abou mission viability and sustainability are regular talking points of the mission planning, but getting there in one piece is the most immediate hurdle.

SpaceX launched an SES-8 communications satellite into orbit, but does this suggest that they can safely deliver the makings of a Mars colony by 2023?

Elon Musk, founder and CEO of SpaceX Design LLC, thinks so.

His plan is to develop the finest rocket ever made to guarantee successful delivery, and he’s personally invested because he wants to go, too. In an interview with The Guardian’s Rory Caroll, SpaceX’s visionary founder sees himself growing old on the Mars colony.

“It would be pretty cool to die on Mars—just not on impact,” he said.

Musk’s goals are rooted in his environmental ideologies. He wants to see a world that is no longer dependent on fossil fuels, and an Earth that can sustain itself. He’s also very concerned that people aren’t taking the current global environmental situation very seriously, so he’s upping the ante.  He thinks reducing the population by opening other planets for habitation is a way to help facilitate a sustainable global ecology, thereby reducing the population footprint on the Earth, so he’s taking the steps necessary to make it possible to deliver humans to a Martian colony by 2023.

And he isn’t taking baby steps.

In a November 2012 address to the Royal Aeronautical Society, Musk stated his plans to transplant 80,000 people to Mars every year:

Elon Musk wants to transport 80 thousand people per year to Mars
Elon Musk plans on moving 80,000 people per year to the Mars Colony

The vehicle to do that would be just one generation removed from the SpaceX Falcon 9, which was launched from Cape Canaveral Air Force Base on December 3rd. The current Falcon 9 can lift payloads of approximately 10,000 pounds into geostationary orbit, and the delivery of Orbital Science Corporation’s 3-and-a-half ton commercial communications satellite was no small feat, but that payload represents only a fraction of what is planned for the Mars mission. The upcoming Falcon Heavy is planned to carry 30,000 pounds as far as Mars.

Successful delivery of the SES-8 satellite proved that SpaceX has what it takes to meet the world’s extra-atmospheric transport and delivery needs. That success, driven by Elon Musk’s vision in conjunction with The Mars One Foundation’s colonization model, proves that SpaceX can do what it sets its mind to.

It also suggests that SpaceX can deliver the first humans to a Mars Colony by 2023.

By Matt Darjany

SpaceX

Mars One Foundation

The Guardian

8 Responses to "SpaceX: SES-8 Delivery Suggests Mars Colony by 2023"

  1. spaceengineer   December 27, 2013 at 9:29 am

    SpaceX has stated multiple times that the falcon heavy is NOT a rocket intended to transport people to mars. It’s just not big enough – half the size of the saturn V which was a moon rocket.

    There just isn’t the payload capacity to transport people and the supplies needed to sustain them over a transit.

    SpaceX’s mars rocket is likely two generations of rockets away from reality. People won’t be launching to mars by 2023.

    Reply
  2. ameriman2   December 6, 2013 at 1:34 pm

    Musk’s goal is to make humanity a ‘multi planet species’… not all of us on one planet subject to an asteroid impact or other single event… a high moral position..
    Elon Musk started SpaceX after realizing that cold war legacy Federal Agency Nasa was incompetent/incapable of reaching Mars.. In only a decade, SpaceX has created boosters/capsules far advanced/efficient beyond anything bloated, pork driven Federal Govt agency Nasa is capable of… SpaceX boosters are from 20 to 100 times more efficient than Nasa’s rockets like the shameless earmarked pork SLS/Orion boondoggle…
    Elon already has the rockets, capsule, facilities, staff, technology he needs… and he now has the $billions (from his Tesla company) to do the job even without any Fed Govt or Nasa funding, help….
    It is about time American private enterprise broke the Govt/Nasa monopoly on US space flight which has wasted the 40 years since Apollo…
    The US manned space program is too important to be further entrusted to our bloated, incompetent, pork driven Federal Govt and Nasa.

    Reply
  3. Jared   December 6, 2013 at 12:30 pm

    “Orbital habitats with artificial gravity are a far better solution for the expansion of humanity to space.”

    Any human colony needs resources. A metal box floating in space is dependent the industrial activities on the planet below because it can not produce the raw materials needed itself.

    This is why Mars is a good idea. We can mine the materials we need to maintain life support systems on Mars.

    Reply
  4. Matt Darjany   December 6, 2013 at 9:41 am

    Good discussion points Louis.

    The Mars One Foundation addresses the exercise issue on their website. They state that one of the first things that crew-members-in-training will have to acclimate themselves to is a daily 3 hour work out regimen to maintain muscle mass int the decreased gravity environment.

    80,000 doesn’t sound like much compared to the birth rate here on earth (speaking annually). Musk’s expectation is that SpaceX will start the transport and other commercial space-flight providers will join the charge.

    I agree that there are a significant number of un-addressed issues in this discussion, but we can expect that they are handled more comprehensively as Mars One and SpaceX get closer to their proposed launch date.

    We appreciate your participation in this discussion,

    Matt Darjany

    Reply
  5. Louis   December 6, 2013 at 9:11 am

    I would like to know how moving 80,000 people to Mars each year is supposed to reduce human footprint on Earth when the net population increase in the US alone is over 1,000,000* each year (birthrate vs death rate) (*based on 2011).

    Reply
  6. Louis   December 5, 2013 at 9:23 am

    Elon Musk wants to destroy humans 80,000 at a time.

    Mars is about 1/3 Earths gravity and all the evidence we have to date indicates that low gravity has significant adverse effects on human biology.

    While a Mars or moon colony is romantic and “cool”, it is NOT a good idea … at least not until we understand the long term effects.

    Orbital habitats with artificial gravity are a far better solution for the expansion of humanity to space. A habitat orbiting Mars could permit regular visits to Mars of limited duration allowing for monitoring of heath issues.

    My favorite space habitat project and business structure: http://www.spacedevcoop.com

    Reply
    • Grey   April 6, 2014 at 1:24 pm

      We have no evidence of reduced gravity. Only 1g and zero. Zero is bad is 38% ok? (Mars is 38% which is not 1/3rd i don’t know why people say that). We don’t know It would seem likely that it would be far better than zero.

      Reply
  7. Jouni Valkonen   December 5, 2013 at 5:33 am

    Note, that Falcon Heavy will be reusable launch vehicle, so the actual launch cost of Mars One project is significantly cheaper than what they advertise.

    Reply

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