“I’m Elon Musk, ask me anything about becoming a space traveler”. With this statement the CEO of Tesla and SpaceX was presented this morning on Reddit willing to answer in a session of Ask Me Anything (ask me anything you want). Of course, all questions had to be directed to your project Martian colonization.
In fact, this room was presented as a complement to the announcement of the project, in which many questions remained to be done. Many of them could do this morning, so we could learn new details about how SpaceX intends to land on Mars or what the appearance of the first colonies there.
Landing on Mars
Interplanetary Transport System (ITS or Interplanetary Transport System) is the draft ship with which Elon Musk intends to Mars carrying the first land settlers. One of the logical questions therefore had to do with the landing system. A user asked if the ITS would be able to float on the surface of the planet while the crew looking for a good place to land.
Tusk said first that the method you have in mind is to “make landings high acceleration” to be “more efficient” in terms of fuel economy, an area is selected for landing and there goes the module. He also said that therefore sees no need to float on the surface “unless they encounter a problem or unexpected wind conditions”.
SpaceX CEO has given this answer more details about your STI, as it is designed for a maximum acceleration of 20 Gs, but in another answer it materialized that the spacecraft would be limited to the nominal value of about 5 Gs.
This means that the module is set for an acceleration of 5 Gs (which produces 5 times the gravity of the earth) during descent and landing on Mars, but has been designed to withstand 4 times higher accelerations without destroying . Definitely, a good safety measure in case something does not come out as expected during the descent.
Another user also wanted to know what materials or technologies still need further development for the ITS is a success, which Musk has responded so far was “the development of a new metal alloy that is extremely resistant to oxidation turbo pump hot oxygen rich, which will be operating at 300 bar pressure for feeding the main chamber.”
Still, they seem to start having this problem under control, as it has ensured that the turbo pump Raptor “showed no erosion tests on, although there is still room for optimization.” Therefore, it is somewhat more controlled this first issue now has other hand:
“The most important issue right now is the sealing of carbon fiber tanks against the cryogenic propellant pressurization with hot weld” he said. “It is almost certain that we have to apply an inert layer of some sort. Hopefully, something that can be sprayed. If necessary, thin sheets are used invar welded together inside”. Come on, there are still challenges in terms of materials, the more pressing the tanks to prevent carbon fiber rust.
Finally, Musk also said that missing even one or two years to reveal how the ITS will be set. It is then, when there are real models, when they give more details on the section of the rooms. In addition, he explained that would be configurable for the first missions can carry more cargo than people, and that in the future seek a better name to replace the Interplanetary Transport System.
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We will live in glass domes
Elon Musk has not only responded to questions about the transport system which it hopes will lead to Mars, but has also shared with the users of Reddit their vision of how it would be the first Martian colony .
About it has been asked, for example, what will the equipment and procedures necessary for the refueling operations. The response has been that they are still far from having set all the details, but having an initial plan would be to send the first part of the Dragon module to make sure they know how to land on the surface and find the best ways to get water.
Then send a ship called Heart of Gold only equipped with the necessary equipment to build a plant fuel, mission that would follow a manned with specialists who build that plant. Come on, that the first two priorities are to be able to get water and ensure that the fuel can be created on Mars.
For travel between the two planets, Musk continues to rely on its Falcon 9 rocket, which has said that “could be used almost indefinitely, as long as careful maintenance and inspections are scheduled”. The Falcon 9 Block 5, the latest version of the series is the best designed for reuse, so it looks logical to phase out previous to focus on the long term versions.
Also you have asked how they would habitats on the planet, to which Musk has responded as follows: “Initially glass panels with frames of carbon fiber for the construction of geodesic domes on the surface, along with a lot of droids mining. With the latter you can build a huge amount of pressurized space for industrial operations and leave the glass domes for green living spaces.”
Musk’s vision therefore is that the first human colony live in glass domes on Mars, and thanks to an army of drones can create pressurized underground tunnels. In these tunnels, industrial activities will take place, while the glass domes will be only for everyday life.
On this I would not give further details became clear it was just an initial vision may still be subject to change. For now, as told in September, the plan is that the mission to start in 2022 and take between 40 and 100 years to create a sustainable civilization on Mars.