What Ideas will SpaceX develop when they get to Mars?

 


From how they would even get there, to what the steps would be to make a full colony. SpaceX is one of many space organizations out there right now trying to get the people of Earth to Mars, and not just get us there, but allow us to colonize the planet. They have a plan to do it, and it's quite detailed, but there are some questions you no doubt have. Such as how will we get there? That is the question, isn't it? After all, if traveling to Mars was easy we would've done it by now. When in fact, traveling to Mars is rather hard on its best days. While Earth and Mars are technical "neighbors", their distances apart are anywhere from 225-401 million kilometers away. It just depends on the day and part of the year they are in their orbits around the sun (as they move at different speeds around the star and have quite a distance between them). Because of this distance, if you convert the Mars distance to miles, you'll see that to travel to the Sun is actually 2.5 times easier than it would be to travel to Mars in terms of distances. Comparing Mars travel to the moon travel, that's 986 times farther. That's quite a distance, and with our current technology, that travel would be on the verge of a year give or take depending on how big the ship is the passengers, weight, and more. If you're a movie buff, you'll be reminded of the film The Martian, where an astronaut is left on the planet and his friends have to travel from Earth to Mars to get him. It took a very long time. AND, their ship was specially built to make that trip. At present, humanity has only built probes and satellites, and rovers that have gone to Mars. However, that is changing, and changing quickly. The SpaceX program is preparing their own colonization of Mars, and to start this off, they're sending cargo ships to the red planet via their Big Falcon Rocket. They're truly preparing this right now, and aim to launch the first of these "cargo ships" in 2022. And once that touchdown, they'll send out the first wave of colonists in 2024. If you're wondering what will be on these"cargo ships", that's very easy. To help speed up the process of both landing on Mars and setting up the first Martian base, SpaceX will use their BRF ships to go and place food, energy supplies, mining and building equipment, and more on the planet. That way, once the astronauts get off the ship and make sure that everything is ok, they can get to work setting everything up. Now, obviously, since it's still 2020 at present, that means things could change, and the technology could hit a breakthrough that allows them to get to Mars even faster. Or set things up even quicker in terms of the base. But the point we need to make here is that these BFRs are the best chance we have of getting Mars at a good period of time with people on them. And once that happens, the colonization can begin. Once you get over the question of, "How do we land on Mars?", the next question that needs to be asked is, "Where do we land on Mars?" After all, landing at a key position, one that can help sustain the life of the colonists, is vital. Think of it in this context, if you were human, and you tried to colonize Earth, would you land in a desert? Or in the middle of the ocean with no land for miles? No, you wouldn't. And while the red planet we call Mars may look like a uniform piece of rock, it's not the case. There are good areas and bad areas of land. Scientists have deduced that the best place for everyone to land is near one of the poles of the planet. If you're thinking about our own poles, and how cold it is there, you might wonder why they would choose there. It's simple, while it is cold there, that's what we need. Because near those poles is ice. Specifically, ice deposits that have been untouched for many thousands of years, if not more. We need water to survive, especially on a planet that doesn't have oceans like Mars. So, if these ice deposits can be broken into, extracted, and converted into liquid water, a major hurdle of colonization can be overcome in relatively no time flat. This would also help lighten a load of sorts in regards to the food and liquid supplies that would come with the colonists. So location is important, but that's still only one part of the equation. There's a lot of differences between Mars and Earth. But without a doubt, the biggest difference is the atmosphere. Mainly Mars doesn't have one that is as thick as Earth's. This is a huge difference as the planet isn't shielded from the sun's radiation or just the regular radiation of space that our Earth shields us from most times. Also, since the atmosphere can't keep things out, that means that things aren't trapped inside, including various gasses that we would need to breathe freely on the planet. Due to this, when we colonize Mars, we would need to have a base that would allow us to not just breathe, but also protect us from all the effects of the harsh Martian landscape, and ensure that we can live without the need for spacesuits. SpaceX is working on that as well. They plan to have a singular massive base to start the colonization with. The base itself will be 41 feet tall, 16 feet wide, and have three different airlocks that will allow the colonists to go from the inside to the outside with minimal change in air pressure. It's stated that the initial team of colonists would be about 6 people, which is fair for a first attempt at surviving on Mars. Obviously, you can't just start with a large city. If it proves successful though, and there are no serious issues with the base in terms of air pressure, longevity, and more, more bases could be sent. One that could connect via pressure tubes, not unlike various sci-fi shows and movies have shown. Slowly but surely, a vast space colony would be grown. One thing that might have slipped your mind when you thought about how we would colonize Mars is the power needed to power everything. While it's true that the first colonists would likely be outfitted with something to last them a lot of days, and maybe years and supply ships could bring in more things like batteries, you must also prepare for the worst. What if the main generator is struck by something in a freak accident? What happens if something from space causes the batteries to fail? What would be done then? The answer is in the plan. Space X intends to launch the colony with a series of reactors and generators. Some of them will be meant to specifically power the station itself. While others will be used to test making power based on the elements that are naturally and readily available on Mars. Thorium for example is one element they believe can harness a great amount of power. And with the mining equipment that would be brought to Mars, they could harvest the elements to power their equipment. Believe it or not, this is actually a key element of truly colonizing an area. For it's easy to just go to a new place and bring along everything you think you need to survive. But to truly "live" there you need to use the natural elements and resources around you. That way you're not just "living" there, you are living there. And, should multiple ways be found to use Mars' natural resources to pour the colony, their ships, and more, it could lead to many advances and guides in regards to what happens when they return to Mars. "Wait, return to Mars? What do you mean by that?" Confused? It may seem odd to try and colonize Mars and then to leave it not long after landing down, right? But remember, colonization is a long term goal. And the last thing you want to do is go to a plan and grow too fast and then have something terrible happen to you in the process. If you think about things like the colonization of the United States. That didn't start with a massive movement of people. It started with a couple of ships worth of people. And if you recall the first colony didn't work out so well but others did. That sent word that things were going well enough to bring more people over, the 13 colonies happened, and the rest is history. For Mars, it's kind of the same thing. Just with a lot more distance. The first base is meant to ensure that colonization on the most basic levels is possible. To test out getting water, get the generators working, prove the living spaces work, and so on. The plan is for them to live on Mars for about 9 months. Then, after that, go back into their ship and head for home. Which would be the first round trip from Mars in history. A true milestone for mankind and a trip that could be the first of many should things go well on the large scale. After they return to Earth, a bunch of research and tests will begin. After all, the now official colonists from Mars are the only real proof and evidence of life on Mars, so they'll need to be tested to see how they react to the return to Earth, how healthy they are, see if anything got on them sickness wise, etc. All of this data will be vital to the second trip to Mars. Where Elon Musk is planning to go even bigger this go around. And by that time, the governments of the Earth will no doubt be helping out more as well. Or at least, we hope that this is the case, again, this is many years into the future and we obviously can't predict all that is happening then. What's going on in the world right now is proof of that. Anyway, the goal of the second mission will be to help not just expand the colony, but help expand the potential of the colony. Including giving them more materials and equipment to work with as they try and truly establish an everlasting colony on Mars. One of the ways that Elon Musk and the company intend to do that is via "space cranes". No, really. He wants to make cranes that'll be able to go up into space, grab equipment from the shuttles that orbit it, and then bring it down to the research base so that the colonists can use it. This would allow more speedy travel and less work for the colonists themselves. Not to mention, it would allow for the transport of heavier materials without the fear of losing them during flight. Plus, the cranes will be reusable for some time, ensuring their worth. Once the groundwork for the colony begins, SpaceX and other space agencies will work together to send supplies, equipment, and more to truly help build our first space colony. It won't look like much at first, but with enough time, effort and energy, we'll get there. And with each month we're on Mars, we'll be growing our reach in special ways. For example, NASA is developing a vehicle that'll allow astronauts to traverse the terrain of Mars to go and exploring for various things. Including potential new landing spots or highly rich mineral areas. This will be important for the future of the colony. And let's not forget about food. While there will be rations and supplies on the early missions, the goal will be to somehow grow food on Mars naturally. It's believed that a greenhouse will be apart of an early mission to help scientists test how to grow the plants naturally on Mars in some capacity. The quicker that happens, the quicker the supply runs of food won't be necessary. Now, the next question you might be asking is, "When will regular people be allowed to go to Mars to live there?" That is honestly a question that no one, not even Elon Musk, can honestly answer. Why is that? Because to have everything in a place where people can willingly and freely go to Mars to start a new life a lot of things have to go right in the grand sense. As well as the small ones. Think about it in regards to everything we've told you so far. First, the cargo ships that launch in 2022 have to last and make it to Mars safely. Then, the first colonist group has to go to Mars safely, start setting up their own base, come back home in 9 months, and get tested and everything. So by that point, it'll likely be late 2025-early 2026, and we're still nowhere close to a full-blown colony. Add to that, it's unclear how long a true colony will take to construct, power, and make sure we have enough supplies for it to survive on its own. This could take YEARS, if not longer, and of course, billions of dollars. In short, it's impossible to know when you can settle for some property on Mars as we don't even know when that'll be an option. Either way though, the fact that SpaceX is getting us closer to Mars every day, and that they could be moments away from another breakthrough that could lead us to Mars quicker is exciting. And it makes us dream of a future where humanity is roaming the stars and colonizing all the worlds that we can. 

Thanks for reading everyone! What do you think of SpaceX's plan to go and colonize Mars? Do you think that it's a good plan? What do you think is going to be necessary to make a successful Mars colony? Let me know in the comments below.

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