Elon Musk to Personally Land on Mars in 2022
SpaceX CEO Elon Musk, never shy around bold statements, made his most audacious proclamation yet. Musk is 100% confident that SpaceX will land on Mars by the end of 2022, yes that’s 365 days from now, and he will be along for the ride calling it “a childhood dream.”
“You want to wake up in the morning and think that the future is going to be great- and that’s what being a spacefaring civilization is all about. It’s about believing in the future and thinking that the future will be better than the past. And I can’t think of anything more exciting than going out there and being among the stars and having my personal footprint literally put into the red dust of Mars,” said Musk.
SpaceX, founded by Musk, confirmed that their brash CEO will will personally step foot on Mars in exactly one year. He will be considered a civilian passenger, but also the boss, which could be interesting for astronauts Sheryl Williams and Richard Kennedy,
At an average distance of 140 million miles, Mars is one of Earth’s closest habitable neighbors. Mars is about half as far from the Sun as Earth is, so it still has decent sunlight. It is a little cold, but we can warm it up. Its atmosphere is primarily CO2 with some nitrogen and argon and a few other trace elements, which means that we can grow plants on Mars just by compressing the atmosphere. Gravity on Mars is about 38% of that of Earth, so you would be able to lift heavy things and jump around. Furthermore, the day is remarkably close to that of earth.
The Vehicle: Starship
Starship will be the world’s most powerful launch vehicle ever developed, with the ability to carry in excess of 100 metric tonnes to Earth orbit. Drawing on an extensive history of launch vehicle and engine development programs, SpaceX has been rapidly iterating on the design of Starship with orbital-flight targeted for 2021. Starship leverages tanker vehicles (essentially the Starship spacecraft minus the windows) to refill the Starship spacecraft in low-earth orbit prior to departing for Mars. And if the tanker ship has high reuse capability, the primary cost is that of the propellant, and the cost of oxygen and methane is extremely low.
Landing on Mars
Starship will enter Mars’ atmosphere at 7.5 kilometers per second and decelerate aerodynamically. The vehicle’s heat shield is designed to withstand multiple entries, but given that the vehicle is coming into MArs’ atmosphere so hot, we still expect to see some ablation of the heat shield (similar to wear and tear on a brake pad).
Musk and Mars – Why Now?
Elon Musk and two other astronauts, Sheryl Williams and Richard Kennedy, will land on Mars on April 1, 2022. They will stay there for approximately one month Earth-time and then return to Earth. While they are there they will collect samples, run lab tests, and explore the surface of Mars.
When asked about the significance of the date, why April 1, 2022, Musk simply replied, “April Fools of Course!”