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