Elon Musk wants SpaceX to reach Mars so that humanity is not a “single planet species”.
SpaceX CEO Elon Musk will announce the next generation Starship spacecraft on September 28, 2019 at the company’s Texas launch facility in Boca Chica near Brownsville, Texas.
Loren Elliott | Getty Images News | Getty Images
SpaceX founder and CEO Elon Musk continues to focus on his vision for the company: building a permanent human presence on Mars with its Starship rockets that transport people to and from the red planet.
“We don’t want to be one of those single planet species, we want to be a multi-planet species,” said Musk on Friday after the company launched its Crew 2 mission into orbit.
“It’s been almost half a century since humans were last on the moon. It’s too long, we have to go back and have a permanent base on the moon – again like a large permanently manned base on the moon. And then build a city on Mars to become a space civilization, a multi-planetary species, “Musk also said.
Starship is the giant stainless steel rocket that SpaceX built and tested at its development facility in Boca Chica, Texas. Starship’s goal is to get cargo and people on missions to the moon and mars. Current Starship prototypes are about 150 feet tall, or about the size of a 15-story building, and are each powered by three Raptor rocket engines.
Starship’s SN10 prototype rocket is on the launchpad at the company’s Boca Chica, Texas facility.
The company has conducted several successful test flights of Starship, although attempts to land after the last four soaring flights have resulted in fiery explosions. Despite the destruction of the prototypes, SpaceX sees progress in the test flights in creating a rocket that is fully reusable. SpaceX’s current Falcon rocket fleet is partially reusable as the company can land and reuse the rocket’s boosters.
But Musk hopes Starship will transform space travel into something more akin to commercial air travel. The enormous size of the rocket would also make it possible to launch several times as much cargo at once – for comparison: While SpaceX’s Falcon 9 rockets can send up to 60 Starlink satellites at the same time, Starship can launch 400 Starlink satellites according to SpaceX a time.
Musk continues to be “very confident” that SpaceX will land humans on Mars by 2026, and said last December that it was an achievable goal “in about six years.” He added that SpaceX plans to send an unmanned spacecraft rocket “in two years”.
An artist’s rendering of SpaceX’s spacecraft rockets on the surface of Mars.
In the meantime, SpaceX still has many milestones ahead of Starship before it can carry passengers. The rocket has not yet reached orbit. Musk said last year that the company will “fly hundreds of missions with satellites before we get people on board.”
Musk may focus on Mars, but the hurdles of developing Starship are not lost for the space billionaire.
“It is difficult to build a vehicle because we are trying to crack this nut of a fast and fully reusable missile,” said Musk. “But what is really important to revolutionize space is a quickly reusable rocket that is also reliable.”