SpaceX is developing a massive stainless-steel Starship that will one day take one hundred passengers to Mars. The company aims to launch the fist Starship with cargo by 2022 and targets 2024 for the first crewed voyage to Mars. The first mission to Mars will consist of taking over 100 tons of cargo humans will need to survive on the rough Martian environment. Vital things like Oxygen and food will be transported to Mars first, so, when the first astronauts arrive, they will have more survival resources. Then, the second mission will transport the first humans to the Red Planet.
Yes— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) June 5, 2020
Teams are rapidly building prototypes at the SpaceX South Texas facility at Boca Chica Beach in Brownsville, TX. These prototypes will undergo a series of tests that pave the way towards developing a space-ready launch vehicle.
SpaceX South Texas Assembly site at Boca Chica Beach. (source: TESMANIAN)
The founder and Chief Engineer at SpaceX Elon Musk says Starship is “the key to making life multiplanetary & protecting the light of consciousness.” He sees the Red Planet as a second home for the human species, in case a massive destruction event wipes out humans on Earth, Mars would preserve our species. He expects the first sustainable settlement on the Martian surface will take around 25 years to build. Musk explained that SpaceX would have to build a fleet of 1,000 Starships that would launch with astronauts and megatons of cargo every 26 months –which is when Mars and Earth’s orbits align closer to conduct a shorter trip. So, a fleet of 100 Starships would embark on a six to eight-month voyage to the Red Planet about every 2 years. At this rate, a sustainable Mars colony would be complete by the year 2050.
That’s when all life on Earth will be boiled off. What matters is how long civilization is capable of making the jump to Mars. This could be a very short period of time measured in decades. It took 4.5 billion years to get to this point & civilization isn’t looking super stable.— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) June 4, 2020
Musk desires to colonize the Red Planet as soon as possible, he believes humans will not always have the window of opportunity to become spacefaring. In response to Musk’s comment about ‘protecting the light of consciousness,’ a Twitter user commented that one day the sun will expand and evaporate Earth’s oceans -making life impossible on our planet, to which Musk responded –“That’s when all life on Earth will be boiled off. What matters is how long civilization is capable of making the jump to Mars. This could be a very short period of time measured in decades. It 4.5 billion years to get to this point & civilization isn’t looking super stable."
Starship under construction at Boca Chica.
Photo source: TESMANIAN
SpaceX teams are building multiple Starship prototypes at Boca Chica’s assembly facility. The prototypes are referred by serial number, SN. Currently, engineers are manufacturing the fifth -SN5- and sixth -SN6- Starship prototypes of the year (possibly even SN7). Starship SN5 is expected to undergo a series of tests that are conducted to ensure the test vehicle is ready to perform a low altitude flight. The first test could take place in a couple of weeks, it will be a pressure test meant to see if the stainless-steel structure and weld is strong enough to take flight. If Starship SN5 passes the test, it will be subjected to another test, involving a static ignition of its Raptor engine. Previous prototypes were destroyed during these tests. The vehicle that passes these tests will conduct a 150-meter test flight above Boca Chica beach. Musk told SpaceX employees Starship development is a top priority. He hopes to accomplish conducting a high-altitude test flight of 20 kilometers and possibly taking Starship to orbit, around 100 kilometers, before the year ends.
About the Author
Evelyn J. Arevalo joined Tesmanian in 2019 to cover news as a Space Journalist and SpaceX Starbase Texas Correspondent. Evelyn is specialized in rocketry and space exploration. The main topics she covers are SpaceX and NASA.