Why SpaceX is planning to develop its first Mars landing missions with Nasa? Top 4 facts - Buxrs.com
Published: 9 months ago By: ENGINEERING TODAY
By: ENGINEERING TODAYPublished: 9 months ago
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SpaceX is quietly planning Mars-landing missions with the help of NASA and other spaceflight experts?
SpaceX, the aerospace company founded by Elon Musk, held a hush-hush conference in Colorado to formulate a plan for landing people on Mars and building an outpost.
SpaceX reportedly sent invitations to about 60 scientists and engineers, asking them not to publicize the event or their attendance at the workshop. Even Leaders of NASA's Mars exploration program reportedly attended.
The workshop may be "the first meeting of such magnitude" in SpaceX's quest to land humans on and ultimately colonize the red planet. Though a SpaceX representative regularly meet with a variety of experts concerning their missions to Mars.
NASA and SpaceX already have the technology to build rockets and land vehicles on Mars. They have been doing that for decades.
"The main hindrance is the human factor. If you really are going to land a person on Mars, you have to feed them, keep them healthy, and build them habitats.
SPACEX'S MARS MISSION PLANS
Musk launched SpaceX in 2002 in part because he was frustrated that NASA didn't have any actionable plan to land people on Mars.
Musk first presented an outline for reaching Mars in September 2016, then elaborated on it in October 2017.
SpaceX plans to launch an uncrewed mission to Mars in 2022, followed by the first human explorers in 2024. Musk also elaborated on the idea of setting up a permanent Martian colony.
Long before trying to colonize Mars, SpaceX will need to pull off its first landings there. Each will require about half a dozen BFR flights to get a spaceship into low-Earth orbit and refuel it.
Construction of a prototype spaceship for the BFR system is now underway and may be test-launched as soon as mid-2019.
Even if that effort goes well, SpaceX will still need to secure scores of durable supplies and high-tech equipment — and formulate well-laid plans to use it all.
Workshops with top experts in the spaceflight world could help SpaceX work toward those goals.
WHY SPACEX NEEDS A GREAT PLAN?
To pull off its initial Mars plans and seed an off-world economy, SpaceX will likely need tens of billions or hundreds of billions of dollars.
SpaceX was awarded about 3 billion dollar in US government awards and contracts to develop its Falcon 9 rocket and Crew Dragon spaceship, with much of that spent to meet NASA's exacting specifications for flying astronauts. But a Mars mission is far more ambitious — and dangerous.
Musk has not been shy about the high risk of failure. In 2016 he said, the likelihood of death is very high" for the first Mars missions, and for that reason he probably wouldn't fly there himself.
Being unafraid to fail has really been what's helped SpaceX advance so quickly. Historically, engineers have learned more from their failures than they have their successes.
Still, multilateral support from space agencies and aerospace companies won't come easy. SpaceX will need a very detailed proposal that doesn't sound like a suicide mission.
How, exactly, Mars missions would play out, and which technologies would be used to keep people alive on the red planet have yet to be described publicly by the company.
THE PROBLEM OF SURVIVING A MISSION TO MARS
The main hurdles to existing on Mars — having enough food, air, and water — are not surprising, but that doesn't make them any less daunting.
Mars is an average of 140 million miles from Earth. The two planets line up in their orbits about once every two years, which shortens a years long trip between Earth and Mars to six or nine months.
In a baseline Mars mission, if we go to the surface, we have to stay there. It's a three-year mission.
By comparison, Apollo missions to the moon took about a week. Missions to the International Space Station can last months, but it can be resupplied with relative ease at 250 miles away.
Based on previous NASA planning, its look like, the food alone required to feed a ragtag Mars mission crew would amount to 10 tons. One possible solution to that weight challenge would be to pre-deliver food supplies years in advance, but that could lead to health problems. Vitamin C, for example, degrades fairly rapidly, so deep-space astronauts might risk developing scurvy.
Water is also very heavy, as are the filters and machinery needed to scrub poisonous carbon dioxide from a spaceship or Mars habitat.
A technology called bio-re-generative life support, could help alleviate or even solve these issues.
WHAT IS BIO-RE-GENERATIVE LIFE SUPPORT?
NASA had plans to do similar experiments,
Keeping the human body healthy in space is another challenge that SpaceX needs to figure out.
We still hopeful that SpaceX — pending "substantial" investments in funding and staff — might pull off a viable crewed Mars mission within a couple years of Musk's 2024 target.