Elon’s Ambition to Conquer Mars!

If you are searching for a man who dream is to become the first Martian Emperor to rules Mars, Elon Musk is your guy. Not enough with bringing modernization of autonomous vehicle to this era, this founder of Tesla and SpaceX are looking far to create a reusable rocket that can go from Earth to Mars back and forth like a bullet train. According to Musk in his appearance on Lex Fridman podcast, when Lex asked “When do you think SpaceX will land a human being on Mars”, the SpaceX founder answered:

“Best case is about five years, worst case 10 years.” – Elon Musk (2021)

With the given deadline, we could possibly witness the first ever human colonization on Red Planet in a relatively short period of time. However, the question that is playing in our mind right now, is this a possible leap for human to colonize Mars? Can Elon Musk bring our current human civilization to a new era? Let’s unravel this one by one.

Photo by SpaceX

Starship Prototype

One factor that increases the possibility of Musk’s success to colonize Mars is his strong majestic rocket called Starship. Starship is one of the most powerful reusable rockets ever developed by SpaceX which is designed to bring both crew and cargo to Earth orbit, the moon, Mars and beyond.

In Musk’s perspective, the Starship rocket resembles the establishment of the arrival of human presence on planetary bodies, such as the moon and Mars. This rocket could afford to carry a maximum of 100 metric tonnes per flight without any speed delay through the orbits.

In ensuring the survivability of the crews and cargos, SpaceX engineers have applied a technology that can never be seen in any other aircraft or rocket which is a heat shield. The heat shield on the vehicle is meant to sustain several incursions, but considering how hot the spacecraft is entering Mars’ atmosphere, the engineers expect some ablation of the heat shield (similar to wear and tear on a brake pad). Although Starship is specifically designed to become a launch vehicle to transport passengers and cargo, the rocket also is built with other features for different uses:

I – Satellites

Starship is designed to transport satellites further than any usual satellite launch with a lower marginal cost per launch than other rocket launches. Given that the payload compartment is larger than any fairing currently in or development, this satellite delivery is feasible, opening the door to new missions such as space telescopes like James Webb, but even larger.

II – Space Station

The transfer of cargo and people to and from the ISS would be short, faster, and less expensive with the Starship. The fairing of a Starship provides enormous capacity for in-space activities. A variety of payloads can also be carried in the aft cargo containers.

III – Moon Missions

With Starship, astronauts are able to transport large amounts of cargo to establish bases on the Moon for research and human spaceflight development.

IV – Interplanetary Transport

Inexpensive delivery of significant quantities of cargo and people is necessary in order to build human living communities on Mars. The totally reusable Starship technology does this through in-space propellant transfer and can transport passengers on long-duration and interplanetary journeys.

We see many sleek spacesuits in movies, but we know the spacesuits are merely for show and not for use because they are from a movie and not genuine. The only real spacesuits need to be big enough because fundamentally it is a pressured suit that has to survive in vacuum surroundings. However, Musk, on the other hand, sees this as motivation to make fit, light, and fashionable spacesuits into reality in the hope that it will inspire many children throughout the world to become astronauts and don the uniform themselves. This spacesuit also has become one of the major leaps for Musk to step his foot on the Red Planet with the given modern technology applied in his spacesuit.

SpaceX’s space suit is designed with a special feature that has suit seat system where the crews can get into the space capsule and plug their suit into the umbilical that is attached to the seat. The linked umbilical will offer everything the suit needs, such as avionic and electronic communications, cold air to cool the suit, and gas if the suit needs to be depressurized. According to SpaceX, the engineers has made the suit to be well-fitted with the donner as the black and white suit will be much easier to maneuver than the NASA’s Space Shuttle’s bulky old orange suits.

Photo by Albin | RenderHub

The air pressure system in the space suit also helps to adjust the air pressure, moderate temperature, deliver oxygen, and deflect cosmic radiation. SpaceX’s suit also has a single connection point between the suit and the vehicle, a communications system for astronauts to speak with each other and the ship, and hearing protection to protect astronauts’ ears throughout the rocket launch ascent and spacecraft re-entry. It also includes two interior layers, a flame-resistant outer layer and a cooling system on the inside. To answer the earlier questions, what we could say after knowing the current development of Musk’s preparation to conquer Mars is that Elon Musk will be the game changer in bringing our current human civilization to another level. He envisions that in future, Earth will get overpopulated in the next 100 years which is why humans at some point, need to have a head start towards space travel development. So, are we ready to embark on this intergalactic expedition to Mars?

*Cover photo credit: NDTV
Adlan Asyraff | Degree in English for Intercultural Communication, University of Teknologi MARA