Million people on Mars
A ROCKET that could allow you to have breakfast in Rundle St and lunch at London’s Harrods is on its way, entrepreneur Elon Musk vowed in Adelaide yesterday.
He says his “Big F....... Rocket” will be able to fly anywhere in the world in under an hour for the cost of an economy ticket, and will also take Earthlings to the Moon and Mars. The BFR will carry 100 people, with two or three to a cabin.
Mr Musk’s long-awaited mission update at the International Astronautical Congress included more detail on the rocket’s technology, and his plans to build a moon base and a city on Mars.
Some insiders at the conference have serious doubts about Mr Musk’s plans, considering them too ambitious and risky. But there is overwhelming optimism from others about his planned Interplanetary Transport System.
Mr Musk wants to build a city on Mars with an eventual population of a million — and he says he can start sending cargo as soon as 2022 — years earlier than previously estimated. “It’s aspirational,” he said. “We can be ready for a launch in about five years. Five years seems like a long time to me.” The crowd of astronauts and rocket scientists cheered when he said a base on the Moon was past due. “It’s 2017. We should have a lunar base by now. What the hell is going on?”
The BFR could also zip people around the Earth. Mr Musk said most trips would be under 30 minutes. Sydney to Dubai would be 40 minutes; and Melbourne to Singapore half an hour. Lockheed Martin is working on a more sober plan with NASA to send humans to Mars by about 2028.
They detailed their planned Mars Base Camp at the IAC, which along with NASA’s planned Deep Space Gateway will allow astronauts to experiment and test systems before ending up on Mars.
Rob Chambers, director of Lockheed Martin’s Human Spaceflight Strategy, said Mars Base Camp was about “more than humanity’s greatest adventure”. “It’s about science,” he said. “Answering fundamental questions that scientists have been asking for hundreds of years. Where did we come from, where are we going, and are we alone?”
Meanwhile, launch testing and space qualification mis- sions are set to happen in SA, Space Industries Minister Martin Hamilton-Smith says.
He has announced a partnership with start-up companies to establish facilities here for a range of space-related industries.
He said on Friday the SA Space Innovation Complex consortium will be a partnership between the State Government and private industry such as Fleet Space Technologies, who are developing nano-satellites. Mr Hamilton-Smith said discussions were underway with businesses that work with space launches, robotics and rocketry. 500 people in a temporary nightclub with the company’s battery packs seen from a viewing platform.
Media access to the site was strictly controlled, as dignitaries including Premier Jay Weatherill and industry Minister Tom Koutsantonis mixed with stakeholders in a festive atmosphere.
Introducing Mr Musk, a triumphant Mr Weatherill said those who had joked about SA’s fragile power system “are laughing out of the other side of their faces now”.
A contract has been signed with electricity supplier Electranet. A Tesla spokeswoman said last night that the Australian Energy Market Operator had approved the “interconnection agreement”.
UP AND AWAY: An artist’s impression of how one of Elon Musk’s planned SpaceX rockets will look.