Elon Musk founded SpaceX with the eventual goal of colonising Mars and making our species multi-planetary. On September 27 Musk will reveal plans regarding the BFR (Big Falcon Rocket) and the MCT (Mars Colonial Transporter) which will work in tandem to launch hundreds of people to Mars.
Founded in 2002 with the goal of Mars colonisation, the company has spent the past fourteen years developing rocket technology to deliver payloads to Earth’s orbit and beyond. Their first venture into space came with the Falcon 1 rocket, a relatively small liquid-propellant rocket which reached orbit for the first time in 2008. Following on from that success, the company developed the Falcon 9 rocket capable of lifting their very own Dragon capsule to the ISS. The Falcon 9 has remained the workhorse of SpaceX, and has been upgraded throughout its operational lifetime.
Recent developments have focused on the reusability of rockets, that Musk says are an essential for the Mars goal to be realised. By reusing the first stage of the Falcon 9 rocket, the cost of each rocket will drop dramatically, reducing the cost of access to space. Landing legs and grid fins were added to the rocket, and following several failed landing attempts at sea, the Falcon 9 finally touched down in December 2015 following the launch of ORBCOMM-2. Since then the company has landed six first stage boosters, which SpaceX hopes to relaunch later this year.
The future is bright for SpaceX, and for us enthusiasts excited to see what is next, the IAC conference on the 27th of September can’t come soon enough. Elon Musk is set to provide details on the Mars architecture that he hopes will ignite the colonisation of the Red Planet and make the human species multi-planetary. It is expected that the Big Falcon Rocket, a name that could be changed at this conference, will be revealed as the largest rocket to ever be built. Early speculation suggests that the Saturn V, the rocket that took humans to the Moon, could be dwarfed in size by the BFR. Additionally, we expect details about the Mars Colonial Transporter to be revealed, including the human capacity which Musk has hinted in previous years could be in the hundreds.
While this all sounds surreal, SpaceX rarely fails to deliver. In fourteen years the company has gone from an ambitious idea from Musk to a space industry leader with the ability to land and (in the coming months) reuse first stage boosters. Musk is expected to reveal the timeline for the first human landing on Mars, a date that if successful will be sure to go down in human history as one of mankind’s greatest achievements.