SpaceX’s Mars ambitions have been no secret, but the company has never laid out a formalized plan. Instead, there have been hints, threads, Elon Musk tweets, and the other breadcrumbs that made it seem like something was in the works. And as Eric Berger at Ars Technica reports, we now only have eight agonizing months until we find out what Musk’s plan is.
In a talk at the StartmeupHK Festival in Hong Kong, Musk stated that he was prepared to unveil SpaceX’s Mars roadmap at the International Astronautical Conference, which will take place from September 26 to 30 in Mexico. And according to Berger, Musk’s plan may call for the kick-off of humans to Mars by 2025, a fairly ambitious goal that puts it nearly a decade ahead of NASA’s nebulous Mission to Mars plans.
SpaceX is working on the Falcon Heavy, a rocket ready to debut later this year capable of lifting 58 tons of material into Low Earth Orbit, which is about four times the lifting power of the Falcon 9. It’s specs are just a few hairs short of NASA’s own Space Launch System, the largest rocket since the Saturn V rockets that carried out the Apollo moon landings.
The Falcon Heavy, or a variant thereof, is expected to be integrated into the Mars Colonial Transporter, SpaceX’s sort-of announced Mars craft. Sort-of in the sense that few details, aside from its existence, have been shared. However, Musk has also previously toyed with the idea of modifying his Crew Dragon or Cargo Dragon craft to haul supplies to Mars in anticipation of human arrival.
Berger also reports that Musk may take a flight up to the International Space Station as a tourist in 2020 or 2021, likely aboard a Crew Dragon. “I don’t think it’s that hard honestly,” he said of any possible training regimen. “You float around.”
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