How SpaceX Will Enable Interplanetary Civilization

How SpaceX Will Enable Interplanetary Civilization


If you’re watching this, you’ve probably
heard of SpaceX. In case you haven’t, SpaceX is a privately-owned space company who have been delivering cargo to the International Space Station and landing reusable rocket stages in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean. But SpaceX has bigger plans – its stated
goal is to establish a colony on Mars with a population of at least 80,000 people, lowering
the cost of a journey to Mars to $500,000 – but before that happens, SpaceX has some
significant milestones to overcome. Fortunately, SpaceX is an innovative, flexible,
and disruptive newcomer to a space industry that has been pretty stagnant for the last
few decades. A twenty-first century, forward thinking approach
might have the potential to revolutionise spaceflight, and enable humanity to become
an interplanetary civilization. Elon Musk is expected to unveil key information
about SpaceX’s Mars plans at the International Astronautical Congress, between the 26th and
the 30th of September, 2016, but concrete details on SpaceX’s actual Mars architecture
are currently difficult to come by. One thing that is known for sure is that
Musk has described plans for a system called the Mars Colonial Transporter (or MCT). The MCT is intended to take 100 people or
100 tons of cargo to Mars at a time. This is much, much more mass than has ever
been sent to Mars before. Details are still unknown, but it’s most
likely that the MCT will be launched in a single part on top of a colossal rocket – what
Elon Musk refers to as the “BFR” or “Big Falcon Rocket”. This rocket will need to be largest rocket
ever constructed, and will most likely be designed for maximum reusability. As more rockets are built and routinely fly
between Earth and Mars, payloads will eventually become cheaper, enabling more people and more
equipment to be sent over. Considering that a society on Mars would
need to be populated by tens or even hundreds of thousands of people to be self-sufficient,
it’s a logical question to ask what would actually DO on Mars? Currently, Mars is a lifeless rock populated
entirely by robots – it has no industry, culture or economy. Any natural resources on Mars would take an
enormous amount of energy to send back to Earth. But what Mars does have is an untapped wealth
of information. While robots do a good enough job of teaching
us new things about our place in the universe, humans are much more versatile – and they
don’t need to be remote controlled with a 14-minute time delay. A Mars colony would essentially be the
biggest and baddest university in the entire solar system, or like Antarctica’s research
stations on a planetary scale. At this planet-sized university, the key fields
of study would most probably be pretty similar to we’ve already been using robots to study
on Mars– Astronomy, Planetary Science, Life Science and Engineering. Then, there would be scholars studying the
colony itself – sociologists, historians, psychologists and philosophers might all find
fruitful academic niches on Mars. Of course, this “university” would need
a lot of support staff to run – administrators, cooks, maintenance staff… And all of these people would need food to
eat, and buildings to live in, and transportation. All of these things can be sourced from Mars
itself – Mars is the only place in the solar system other than Earth that has all the ingredients
we need to be self-sufficient. Water, air and fuel can be extracted from
Mars’ atmosphere, and after a couple of cargo missions, it would theoretically be
possible for the community to be self-sustaining. – But It’s very likely that a colony would
still be very dependent on resources from Earth. It’s also natural to ask who or what will
pay for all of this? Space Programs are expensive, so it’s unintuitive
and difficult to see how a whole colonization program could possibly be economically feasible. This whole endeavour will probably
start out on a pretty small scale, and become much larger and cheaper over time as the necessary
frameworks are put into place. SpaceX’s first customer might be NASA, who
already pay SpaceX to resupply the International Space Station – SpaceX is really an infrastructure
company, not a research agency. NASA or the American Government might decide
that research could be done for much cheaper using SpaceX than developing its own launch
capability. Universities and research institutions would
be next: Besides being a huge opportunity for research,
sending scientists to Mars would be a great subject for a university ad campaign – the
ability to slap their name on a Mars mission would be very attractive to a university with
a lot of money to spend. Next comes investment by companies looking
to advertise their products and services as “Mars approved”
Over time, these industries might start losing out to home-grown Martian companies, manufacturing
products for Martian industries on Mars itself. From Mars, launching rockets is much easier,
so Mars might become a much more convenient Launchpad for asteroid mining, and missions
further out into the solar system. A space elevator, which is much easier to
construct on Mars, would make it much more possible to export goods from Mars to Earth,
as well as other potential human colonies around the Solar System. If Earth is the birthplace of humanity, Mars
might very well become the cradle of interplanetary civilization. On top of that, a colony on Mars might provide
a lot of entertainment from people back on Earth. TV deals could provide another stream of revenue,
beaming back documentaries, news, reality TV, and maybe even sports – anyone interested
in low-gravity football? As human presence on Mars becomes more developed,
we will probably start to terraform the planet in order to make it more Earth-like, but this
process will likely last over 1000 years. This might be the most important undertaking
in human history, providing us with a home away from home, and redefining our place in
the universe. If you’re watching this video in 2016, this
all sounds ridiculous. No human has ever set foot on Mars. But if Elon Musk succeeds in lowering the
cost of spaceflight, and creating a reliable, reusable infrastructure, Mars becomes a significantly
more accessible destination. What might sound even more ridiculous, however,
is that Musk wants to get the ball rolling on this in 2024 – 8 years from now. If all goes to plan, we might be seeing a
presentation as significant as Kennedy’s “We choose to go to the Moon” speech week. And in 1962, the idea of two men walking around
on the surface of the Moon just under 7 years later was just as unthinkable.

100 thoughts on “How SpaceX Will Enable Interplanetary Civilization

  1. $500,000 per ticket? so in the last round of tuition hikes before I graduated, Virginia Tech could afford to send 90 people, or about 1 full flight to mars.

  2. The only person on this planet who can start a new civilization on a new planet irrespective of religion, language & nationality….ELON MUSK 😎

    Imagine a world with no differences. Our last hope.
    ELON MUSK 😐

  3. Shouldn't we should colonize our Moon first ? It's closer than Mars and we can experiment with the systems we need to colonize the cosmos

  4. Sorry kid, but I have to laugh about the naivety in your predictions. "What will they do there? Universities and research institutions." Dude, they will be concentrating on basic survival and living conditions. Universities are dying even here on earth. At a small population place like Mars if someone wants an education they will use an Internet based university. As for your exporting predictions about tractors or whatever, Mars will essentially be like the Caribbean: a vacation and tourist destination. The Caribbean doesn't export major products to us, and neither will Mars, and if they tried to it would cost 100x what it costs to manufacture on Earth.

  5. On the last one, why the hell would the end goal be to terraform mars? Planets in general are ludicrously inefficient for living, if you tear up earth you can have 1000x the living ares

  6. If elon musk really wants to send humans then why dont he send tardigrates the toughest animal on earth as it can live more than 30 years without water

  7. I love SpaceX and what they are accomplishing. BUT!! Why would anyone think that Mars is "less" susceptible to a planetary catastrophe than Earth? If anything, it's inhabitants are more likely to be destroyed by a large asteroid impact. Its farther out, so it might catch one that might also threaten Earth. It has less atmosphere to deflect or disintegrate any approaching objects. Obviously, there are less resources on the planet to "do" anything about it. And if it takes out the least amount of infrastructure, it could kill everyone without actually having to destroy the whole planet. So this idea of using Mars as a life raft is dumb and impractical. If you want to go exploring and camp out, fine, but moving a large population to Mars to save the human race doesn't do anyone any good and if anything takes resources away that could be better used to shore up good old mother earth. Do be a rat so eager to jump ship!

  8. wow we will be able to go to a different planet in 9 years but wont be able to explore the deepest part of our planets ocean

  9. It is actually happening, the cost of Space X's rocket launch is 80 million dollars compare to NASA's 400 million dollars per launch. And the rocketship is already reusable infact, it just launched and landed yesterday ..

  10. 3:30 – You say after just a couple of cargo missions the colonies would become self-sustainable. But then you say they'd still be dependent on supplies from Earth. That's a contradiction.

    Regardless, the colonies could never become self-sustainable. Our lives are dependent upon this ecosystem, which begins in the ocean. Yes, you could make things semi-workable by bringing megatons of soil, bacteria, seeds, insects, and animals to Mars and construct domed habitats, but there'd always be that break in the chain. And even after megatons upon megatons of natural supplies from Earth, for a hundred years, and a terraformed planet Mars, you still couldn't do it because the food we rely on begins with plankton in the oceans. Vast, unimaginably huge quantities of plankton and other microbial life, which couldn't survive in any man-made ocean on Mars, because of the solar radiation. It can't be done. They would be forever dependent on supplies from Earth.

  11. Some people say Elon Musk is God, he isnt. But 1000 years from now he will be, in Mars! Imagine in case we divide from Mars colony, they will create their mythology, and their supreme deity will be called El-on. Funny thing El alredy means God…

  12. Just stay on earth….WHERE THIS IS OXYGEN. You don't know how stupid it sounds to colonoze another planet when there is already one, earth.

  13. Earth does not even manage its own problems, I just see a bunch of nerds trying to invent a new kind of videogame for their fun.

  14. When I shipped out for Basic, the orbital defense grid was all theory and politics. Now look! The Cairo is just one of three hundred geosync platforms. That MAC gun can put a round clean through a Covenant capital ship

  15. So im a real estate guy, however, im a huge astronomy fan and I believe this is this should be the main focus of our society. I would like to know if its possible to purchase Martian​ real estate in our present time.

  16. I wouldn't really trust a democracy to undertake a vast, 1,000-year project such as terraforming. It's the most unsurprising thing in the world that democracy would raise the time preference of the government.

  17. for the innovations SpaceX has provided, I think it should replace NASA's sections that SpaceX focuses on. spreading it between companies may make coherence a bit loose, but it will allow them to focus better on what they are better at. NASA has been stretched over all the areas and changes in focus will likely cause it to loose progress in ALL areas to some extent. this can be reduced by allowing another company to focus on something that likely won't need changing. They have employed SpaceX to do research innovation, but they aren't really replacing any of NASA's areas of research, despite their massive contribution to it.

  18. SpaceX is a next generation space program. Its technologies are little ahead of NASA’s. I believe Elon could make United States to become the very first country to send manned mission to Mars. I wonder why haven’t any countries try to challenge the USA’s space program? I mean if the soviets are gone, then who’s may challenge USA to another space race?

  19. Flawed as hell. First off, we wouldnt establish just universities. We would establish more. Just plain land in general for housing, minig and such

  20. Terraforming is a waste of time and resources. What's wrong with sealed habitats? The effort is much better spent disassembling the thing and making megastructures and orbital habitats.

  21. imagine Martian TV Shows:
    Survivor: Hellscape
    Keeping Up With The Kardashians: Drama Out of This World
    CSI: Mars
    The Martian Bachelor
    Mars' Next Top Model
    Big Brother: Mars

  22. I think humanity is already an interplanetary species…Mars was born from the earth it has fauna & flora but it is like saltbush. In some hydrothermic oasis’s

  23. Will it? If travel ing 6 months to get to Mars and 6 months to get to Earth, there will be rehab for the travelers after the trip…so being an interplanet civilisation should be able to be completed without rehab being required after each trip to the planet…

  24. Its like if every time you traveled to a different country you would need rehab for months and each trip to and from the countries would require rehab and might even cause loss of eyesight…no one would do it and it would be insane to do…this is what a 6 month trip in space will do to the body…unless there is artifical gravity and proper radation shielding .

  25. it's gonna be very efficient to convert-lox and methane at them temps ! get your woolly spacesuit that your nan knitted

  26. It cracks me up when these videos talk of terraforming Mars! Mars lacks the mass to contain a oxygen rich atmosphere or atmospheric pressure nor does Mars have a liquid core to generate a magnetic shield against solar radiation!
    Of course all these things can be dealt with, except for the reduced gravity problem and it's physical and mental effects on the human body over long term.

  27. We will not colonise any Solar System body within THIS historical cycle. Perhaps in the course of the next – but we are realistically looking at a time span of 10,000 years (not ‘1000’) to accomplish this. ‘Modern’ humans are still bound within our archaic evolutionary substrate. We have no realistic conceptions of Time, Space, Energy, Distance or Scale. We still have 17:000 years to go before we truly enter interstellar space. It will take us 75,000 years to reach our nearest neighbouring star (Proxima Centauri). Not even Elon Musk has developed realistic conceptions of Space and Time. At present we are only ‘playing’ at being a spacefaring species…

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