With fewer than seven days before a major SpaceX announcement, Elon Musk has stated that even in the wake of the recent SpaceX launch trouble, he still thinks sending a “meaningful number” of people to Mars to start a colony could potentially begin in as few as nine or ten years. But of course, there are always caveats. In a recent interview done by Y Combinator, Musk mentioned a few of them — like SpaceX not “dying,” and Musk himself not dying without someone to take over for him who’s still committed to a Mars colony.
This is, of course, music to the ears of SpaceX fans like myself, who are now eagerly awaiting 27 September 2016 at 2:30pm Eastern, the start date and time of a live feed at the rather suggestively-situated address “spacex.com/mars.”
The announcement is almost certainly going to be Musk’s long-planned answer to competitor Blue Origin’s New Glenn, the Mars Colonial Transporter and its launch vehicle, currently being referred to as the “BFR.” The “B” is for “Big” and the “R” is for “Rocket,” and you can probably connect the dots.
What do we know so far about the MCT/BFR? In theory it should have 3-4 times the thrust of the Falcon Heavy, with the intent of taking 100 people or 100 tons of supplies to Mars, and it will use the in-development Raptor engines already being tested. It’ll probably also be the biggest rocket anyone’s ever made, bigger even than the Saturn V. For Musk’s plans to work, it’ll also have to be reusable, to keep launch costs down, and it’ll probably be able to send smaller things further out into the solar system at a faster pace.
You can check out the Y Combinator interview and a transcript of the Mars colony remarks below.
Y Combinator Interviewer: What do you think the odds of the Mars colony are at this point, today?
Elon Musk: Well oddly enough I actually think they’re pretty good.
YC: So like when can I go?
EM: Okay, at this point I am certain there is a way. I am certain that success is one of the possible outcomes for establishing a self-sustaining Mars colony in fact a growing Mars colony. I am certain that that is possible, whereas until maybe a few years ago I was not sure that success was even one of the possible outcomes. So a meaningful number of people going to Mars, I think this is potentially something that could be accomplished in about ten years, maybe sooner, maybe nine years. I need to make sure that SpaceX doesn’t die between now and then, and that I don’t die, or if I do die that someone takes over who will continue that.
YC: Shouldn’t go on the first launch–
EM: –Yeah exactly… actually the first launch will be robotic anyway, so.
Thanks for reading! Except for the very *very* occasional tip (we take Venmo now!), I only get paid in my own (and your) enthusiasm, so please like This Week In Tomorrow on Facebook, follow me on Twitter @TWITomorrow, and tell your friends about the site!
If you like our posts and want to support our site, please share it with others, on Facebook, Twitter, Reddit — anywhere you think people might want to read what we’ve written. Thanks so much for reading, and have a great week.
Richard Ford Burley is a human, writer, and doctoral candidate at Boston College, as well as an editor at Ledger, the first academic journal devoted to Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies. In his spare time he writes about science, skepticism, feminism, and futurism here at This Week In Tomorrow.