Space & Astronomy
Musk: 'Starship could go to Mars by 2024'
By T.K. Randall
October 19, 2020 · 6 comments
Will Starship one day carry the first astronauts to Mars ? Image Credit: SpaceX
The SpaceX CEO's upcoming Starship spacecraft/rocket hybrid could launch on a mission to Mars within 4 years.
Measuring 50 meters long, weighing in at 120 tons and equipped with six engines - three fixed and three movable - Starship is nothing if not ambitious.
Designed to carry cargo and astronauts all the way to Mars, this next-generation spacecraft is the real deal and could see the first humans set foot on the Red Planet in the not-too-distant future.
Before then, however, it will need to achieve several other milestones ranging from reaching Earth's orbit all the way to traveling to - and landing on - the surface of Mars.
Despite the fact that Starship is still in the prototype and testing stage, SpaceX CEO Elon Musk seems confident - as he often tends to be - about just how quickly the new vehicle will reach its destination.
There are already plans to fly space tourists around the Moon by 2023 and now Musk has indicated that he hopes it will be possible to launch an unmanned mission to Mars the year after.
Such a mission, he argues, could have happened within 3 years if it were not for the orbital mechanics involved - there is typically a two-year gap between launch windows due to the planet's position.
One of Musk's main goals is to set up a permanent manned outpost on Mars, however because SpaceX is mostly about transportation, he may not have to solve that problem himself directly.
"SpaceX is taking on the biggest single challenge, which is the transportation system," said Mars Society founder Robert Zubrin. "There's all sorts of other systems that are going to be needed."
"My personal hope is that we're gonna see Starship in the stratosphere before this year's out, and if Elon is right, reach orbit next year or the year after."
"This will change people's minds as to what is possible. And then, you know, we'll have NASA seeking to fund the remaining pieces of the puzzle or entrepreneurs stepping forward to develop remaining pieces of the puzzle."
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