SpaceX (which is short for Space Exploration Technologies) is either the most brazen company ever formed by man or America’s last great hope for expanding free civilization across the star system.
The only question is, “do they have the right stuff?”
Note: Fast forward to 13:05
“We’ll probably put a first man in space in about three years,” Elon Musk told the Wall Street Journal Saturday. “We’re going all the way to Mars, I think… best case 10 years, worst case 15 to 20 years.” [...]
“Our goal is to facilitate the transfer of people and cargo to other planets, and then it will be up to people if they want to go,” said Musk, who also runs the Tesla company which develops electric cars. (Physorg.com)
With NASA nervous about landing anything over a ton upon Mars (let alone dealing with the side effects of cosmic radiation), one has to wonder how SpaceX plans on achieving this goal when the US government themselves are hesitant about the idea.
While SpaceX does have the fortitude to encounter Mars within our lifetime, there are at least a few problems the company will have to address if they want to see someone survive the trip towards Mars (let alone return home from it).
Exiting The Home World
Truthfully this should be SpaceX’s least difficult task, as their upcoming rocket (the Falcon Heavy) not only out performs their rivals, but their rocket is even less expensive than China’s (who usually have the cheapest price around).
While Falcon Heavy lacks the lift to help humanity break Earth orbit (let alone land on the Moon), it wouldn’t be surprising to see the company develop a Mars bound rocket within a decade (or even 15 years).
Into The (Radioactive) Black
Despite the celestial heaven’s serene appearance, the blackness of space harbors deadly cosmic radiation that can reduce an astronauts IQ to the level of a vegetable (not to mention wreak havoc upon the heart as well).
If SpaceX aspires to trek the vastness of space in order to help humanity migrate upon Mars, they will need adequate shielding to protect them from being microwaved by the universe.
Although layers of lead around the craft would suffice, it might be wiser to use magnetic shields instead which would help reduce the amount of weight SpaceX has to launch into orbit.
The private space firm might also want to ponder patients using anti-radiation drugs too, although building a radiation safe cabin (surround by lead) would be advisable.
Micro Gravity Blues
The lack of gravity can not only cause our muscles to waste away, but also weaken our bones as well. Worse, our immune system tends to slack off while at the same time provoking dangerous bacteria to become even more lethal.
While electrical shocks and omega-3 seafood could save future explorers muscles and bones (as exercise is not enough), SpaceX will need to figure out a sensible way of mimicking gravity upon their rocket lest future explorers skip landing upon Mars due to being too weak to survive Martian gravity.
Note: Do any readers have any ideas on tackling the gravity problem? Aside from spinning techniques that is.
Final Destination: Crimson Soil
Even if SpaceX finds a way to cheaply exit our homeworld and avoids succumbing to the effects of radiation and micro gravity, finding a way to safely land upon Mars will prove to be a daunting challenge.
It might be wiser for SpaceX to simply land their larger craft upon the Martian moon known as Deimos instead, and ferry astronauts to the surface using smaller space craft.
Since the red planet lacks an abundance of water in liquid form, SpaceX could use Ballutes to slow the craft down, enabling a human vessel to gently touch down upon the red planet instead of smashing into its surface.
Note: Future red planet residents might want to consider building a Skyhook (aka space elevator) upon Phobos, which could reduce the cost of landing upon Mars, as well as launching off of the crimson world.
Can SpaceX Put A Man On Mars?
Truthfully only time will reveal whether SpaceX can send a man (or woman) to Mars within the next two decades.
However if SpaceX is successful we could witness a new age for humanity, one that envisions us leaving our Earthen cradle in order to explore the solar playground around us.
Image Credits: NASA, ADAM