Elon Musk’s Plan: Get Humans to Mars, and Beyond
GUADALAJARA, Mexico — Elon Musk’s plans to get to Mars start with a really big rocket. He still needs to figure out how to pay for it.
For years, Musk, the billionaire founder of the SpaceX rocket company, has been offering hints and teases of his desire to colonize the big red planet.
In a talk on Tuesday at the International Astronautical Congress here, Musk finally provided engineering details, optimistic timelines and a slick video.
周二，马斯克参加了在这里举办的国际宇航大会(International Astronautical Congress)，他在发言中终于公布了技术细节、颇为乐观的日程表，以及一段精美的视频。
“What you saw there is very close to what we’ll actually build,” Musk said, referring to the rockets and spacecraft in the video.
Musk estimated it would cost $10 billion to develop the rocket, and he said the first passengers to Mars could take off as soon as 2024 if the plans went off without a hitch. For now, SpaceX is financing development costs of a few tens of millions of dollars a year, but eventually the company would look to some kind of public-private partnership.
Each of the SpaceX vehicles would take 100 passengers on the journey to Mars, with trips planned every 26 months, when Earth and Mars pass close to each other. Tickets per person might cost $500,000 at first, and drop to about a third of that later on, Musk said.
To establish a self-sustaining Mars civilization of a million people would take 10,000 flights, with many more to ferry equipment and supplies.
“We’re going to need something quite large to do that,” Musk said.
Musk has talked of his “Mars Colonial Transporter,” but a couple of weeks ago, he suggested that its capabilities would be much greater.
马斯克曾经谈起过他的“火星殖民运输系统”(Mars Colonial Transporter)，但几个星期前，他说它的性能应该更加强大。
He now calls it the Interplanetary Transport System. The booster would include 42 of SpaceX’s new, more powerful Raptor engines.
如今他将之称为“行星际运输系统”( Interplanetary Transport System)。SpaceX新研制的更为强大的“猛禽”(Raptor)火箭引擎可能也为他提供了强心剂。
What is less clear is how SpaceX will raise the money needed to bring its Mars dreams to fruition.
Scott Pace, a former NASA official who is the director of the Space Policy Institute at George Washington University, said Musk’s vision was plausible technically, but added, “Other than emotional appeal, however, it didn’t really address why governments, corporations or other organizations would fund the effort.” His bottom-line opinion: “Possible, but not probable.”