#Space #SpaceX #ElonMusk #Starship #Mars
SpaceX's 1st crewed Mars mission could launch as early as 2024, Elon Musk says | Space
SpaceX's first crewed mission to Mars could be just four years away.
Company founder and CEO Elon Musk said on Tuesday (Dec. 1) that he's "highly confident" SpaceX will launch people toward the Red Planet in 2026, adding that the milestone could come as early as 2024 "if we get lucky."
Musk made the remarks during a webcast interview with Mathias Döpfner, CEO of the German media company Axel Springer SE. The two spoke at Axel Springer's Berlin headquarters as part of a ceremony honoring Musk, who won this year's Axel Springer Award.
"And then we want to try to send an uncrewed vehicle there in two years," Musk told Döpfner. (The two-year target intervals are dictated by orbital dynamics: Earth and Mars align favorably for interplanetary launches just once every 26 months.)
The vehicle that will make these Mars trips is the 165-foot-tall (50 meters) Starship, which will launch from Earth atop a giant rocket known as Super Heavy. Both of these craft will be fully and rapidly reusable; Super Heavy will return to Earth for vertical touchdowns shortly after liftoff, and Starship will be able to fly from Earth orbit to Mars and back again many times, Musk has said. (Starship will be powerful enough to launch itself off both Mars and the moon, which have much weaker gravitational pulls than that of Earth.)
SpaceX is iterating toward the final Starship via a series of prototypes, the latest of which, SN8 ("Serial No. 8"), is gearing up for a big test flight. SpaceX aims to launch the three-engine SN8 to a target altitude of 9 miles (15 kilometers) this week, Musk said recently.
That's far higher than any other Starship prototype has flown to date. Three single-engine variants — Starhopper, SN5 and SN6 — reached a maximum altitude of about 500 feet (150 meters) on their test flights, which occurred last summer and this past August and September, respectively.
The final Starship will sport six of SpaceX's powerful new Raptor engines, Musk has said. Super Heavy will sport about 30 Raptors.
Musk has long stressed that he founded SpaceX in 2002 primarily to help humanity become a multiplanet species. He reiterated that goal during his conversation with Döpfner and also doubled down on another previously stated desire: He wants to die on Mars.
"Just not on impact," Musk joked.
Tuesday's discussion was wide-ranging, touching on a number of Musk's ventures and passions. For example, Musk expressed confidence that his electric-car company, Tesla, will introduce a fully autonomous driving capability next year (though he stressed that it's unclear when regulators will approve fully autonomous driving).
The annual Axel Springer Award "is given to outstanding personalities who are particularly innovative, and who generate and change markets, influence culture and at the same time face up to their responsibility to society," company representatives wrote in a description of the award. It's a "prestige prize without prize money," the description adds.
Previous Axel Springer Award winners include Amazon.com founder Jeff Bezos, who also runs the spaceflight company Blue Origin (2018), World Wide Web inventor Timothy Berners-Lee (2017) and Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg (2016).
#SpaceX is targeting Monday, September 28 at 10:22 a.m. EDT, 14:22 UTC, for launch of its thirteenth #Starlink mission, which will launch 60 Starlink satellites to orbit. Falcon 9 will lift off from #Launch #Complex #39A (#LC-39A) at #Kennedy #Space #Center in Florida.
Falcon 9’s first stage previously supported launch of Crew Dragon’s first flight to the International Space Station with NASA astronauts onboard and the ANASIS-II mission. Following stage separation, SpaceX will land Falcon 9’s first stage on the “Of Course I Still Love You” droneship, which will be stationed in the Atlantic Ocean. One of Falcon 9’s fairing halves supported two previous Starlink launches. The Starlink satellites will deploy approximately 1 hour and 1 minute after liftoff.
Russian space agency chief Dmitry Rogozin once ridiculed the lack of a U.S. manned flight programme, saying it might as well "deliver its astronauts to the ISS by using a trampoline".(c) Photo: MK
Six years later Elon Musk and NASA had the last laugh.
"The trampoline is working," quipped the 48-year-old U.S. entrepreneur at a post-flight news conference alongside NASA administrator Jim Bridenstine.
Both men laughed. "It's an inside joke," Musk added.
On Saturday, his SpaceX made history by becoming the first commercial company to send humans into orbit.
The U.S. feat and Musk's joke set Russian social media alight, with wits ridiculing Rogozin, and the Russian space chief's name began trending on Twitter.
"How do you like this, Dmitry Rogozin?" one critic prodded.
Russia still prides itself on sending the first human into orbit in 1961 and other achievements of the Soviet-era space programme.
Rogozin has remained conspicuously silent but his spokesman was forced to react.
"We don't really understand the hysteria sparked by the successful launch of a Crew Dragon spacecraft," spokesman Vladimir Ustimenko said on Twitter.
"What should have happened a long time ago happened," he added.
While cosmonaut Sergei Krikalev, Roscosmos executive director for crewed space programmes, saluted the US achievement in a brief video address, not everyone was in such a gracious mood.
Alexey Pushkov, a member of the upper house of parliament, declared Saturday's flight was not a big deal.
"This is a flight to the International Space Station, not to Mars," he said on messaging app Telegram.
He pronounced it time to stop ferrying Americans to the orbiting lab.
"Russia needs spaces for its own young cosmonauts."
"Die Sonne wird schrittweise heißer und größer. Auch ohne Erderwärmung wird sie eines Tages die Erde überhitzen", erläuterte Musk seinen Beweggrund.
Den "schnellsten Weg zu einer selbsterhaltenden Stadt auf dem Mars" soll SpaceX' Starship darstellen. Elon Musk zeigte einen Prototyp.