Elon Musk has called for a human outpost to be built on the moon to boost public interest and ‘continue the dream’ of the Apollo missions.
The SpaceX founder, speaking at the International Space Station (ISS) Research & Development Conference in Washington, D.C., also admitted the firm’s first test of its Falcon Heavy rocket, scheduled for later this year, stood a ‘real good chance’ of failing.
He also admitted he hoped to visit the International Space station in ‘three to four years’, travelling in one of the firm’s Dragon Crew capsules, and launching using its smaller Falcon rocket.
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SpaceX founder Elon Musk speaks during the 67th International Astronautical Congress in Guadalajara, Mexico. On Wednesday, July 19, 2017, Musk said the first launch of its big new rocket, the Falcon Heavy, is risky and stands “a real good chance” of failure.
MUSK ON MARS TRIPS
Musk also addressed the risks of a trip to the red planet.
‘Going to Mars is not for the faint of heart,’ said Musk.
‘It’s risky, dangerous, uncomfortable, and you might die. Now, do you wont to go? For some the answer will be: Hell no. For some, it will be: Hell yes.’
‘I don’t think you’ll get irradiated to death,’ said Musk.
‘With some moderate shielding we can cut down on a large percent of incremental radiation, so the marginal risk of cancer isn’t something that’s going to be a show stopper.’
‘If safety is your top goal, I wouldn’t go to Mars.’
‘If we want to get the public real fired up, we’ve got to have a base on the moon – that would be pretty cool,’ he said.
‘Having some permanent presence on another heavenly body, that’s the continuance of the dream of Apollo.’
He also lamented that many people seem to be unaware of the International Space Station, or do not seem to fully understand ‘how cool the ISS is.’
Musk’s SpaceX is gearing up to fire its giant rocket later this year.
The Falcon Heavy will have three boosters instead of one, and 27 engines instead of nine, all of which must ignite simultaneously.
No one will be aboard the initial flights.
When it comes time to add people, Musk said, ‘no question, whoever’s on the first flight, brave.’
SpaceX has previously said it plans to fly two paying customers to the moon in 2018, using a Falcon Heavy.
While the moon may not be in Musk’s personal travel plans, he said in response to a question that he’d like to ride one of his smaller Falcon rockets to the International Space Station in maybe three or four years.
SpaceX plans to start ferrying NASA astronauts to the orbiting outpost, using Falcon 9 rockets and enhanced Dragon capsules, by the middle of next year. SpaceX now uses the Dragon capsule to deliver supplies to the space station.
‘All right, we’ll put you on the manifest,’ said NASA’s space station program manager Kirk Shireman.
Speaking for over an hour at the Washington conference, Musk encouraged people to go to Cape Canaveral for the Falcon Heavy launch.
‘It’s guaranteed to be exciting,’ he promised, getting a big laugh.
‘There’s a lot of risk associated with Falcon Heavy, real good chance that that vehicle does not make it to orbit,’ he said.
‘Major pucker factor, really, is like the only way to describe it.’
Building the Falcon Heavy has proven harder than SpaceX envisioned, according to Musk.
But it will be capable of lifting more than double the amount of payload into orbit than the current Falcon 9, and also hoisting a SpaceX Dragon capsule into a loop around the moon.
SpaceX has previously revealed how their Falcon Heavy rocket will work. A video shows it lifting off (shown) from a launch pad in Florida. Its side boosters and core then land themselves back at the pad. SpaceX say reusability is key to keeping launch costs down. The Falcon Heavy will be used to take astronauts to the moon and Mars
As for Mars, Musk said he favored friendly competition for getting astronauts to the red planet.
NASA for years has supported an international effort.
Musk said it would be better to have at least two or three-country coalitions striving to get there first and making the most progress.
He praised the model used by NASA in the commercial crew program, in which both SpaceX and Boeing are developing capsules for flying space station astronauts.
Americans have not launched from home soil since the last shuttle flight in 2011, instead forced to use Russian rockets.
The crew Dragons will parachute into the ocean just like the cargo Dragons; land landings were scrapped because of the work needed to make everything safe.
Musk also said he’s updated his long-term plan for colonizing Mars to make it more economically feasible.
The vehicles will be smaller, although still big.
He promised to share his evolving ideas at a September conference in Australia.
Musk also said that using satellites to provide low-cost internet to rural customers, and doing Earth observation for crops, climate, and natural disasters, are just two examples of the potential business opportunities created from such a venture.
He also discussed his plan to dig tunnels beneath Los Angeles, through the venture he named ‘The Boring Company.’
Musk said that project is a ‘low stress activity’ because ‘everyone expects it to fail.’
However, he said the project could one day be used to design digging machines that can mine Mars for ice and minerals.
‘I do think getting good at digging tunnels could be really helpful for Mars,’ said Musk.
‘It would be a different optimization for a Mars boring machine versus an Earth boring machine.
‘For sure there’s going to be a lot of icing mining on Mars, and mining in general to get raw materials.’
Musk has said that any plan to colonize Mars would have to make as much use of Martian materials for building and general survival as possible.
MUSK’S PRIVATE MOON MISSION
Elon Musk’s SpaceX will launch a crewed mission beyond the moon for two private paying customers using the Dragon Heavy, it has been revealed.
It will be the first time in 45 years humans have been in deep space, said the company, promising its mission will go ‘faster and further’ than any humans before them.
The week-long mission was originally due to take place some time in late 2018 and will ‘skim the surface of the moon’ then venture into deep space before returning to Earth, Musk revealed.
The identity of the customers and how much they paid has been kept secret.
When completed, the Falcon Heavy will be equipped with three cores, making for a total of 27 Merlin engines to generate 5.13 million pounds of thrust at lift-off.
SpaceX expects the mission to take place some time in late 2018, after it sends a crewed NASA Dragon craft to the International Space Station.
‘We have been approached by private individuals,’ said SpaceX CEO Elon Musk, after announcing the mission by tweeting ‘fly me to the moon… ok’.
‘This is a private mission with paying customers, who have placed significant deposits,’ Musk said, but added that they have so far not authorized the company to reveal their names.
Musk said the individuals know each other and are ‘very serious’ about the flight
‘This is a really exciting thing that’s happened,’ Musk told reporters.
‘And then, along the way, building underground habitats where you could get radiation shielding… you could build an entire city underground if you wanted to,’ said Musk.
‘People are still going to want to go to the surface from time to time, but you can build a tremendous amount underground with the right boring technology on Mars. So I think there is some overlap in that technology development arena.’
Earlier this month Elon Musk announced the Boring Company’s Godot machine has begun its digging operation in the car park of the SpaceX building in LA.
‘Just installed steel skeleton of the car/pod elevator. Should be operating next week’, the SpaceX founder tweeted today, with a five second video of the site.
This marks a major step in Musk’s plans to build a transport network beneath the city.
The announcement comes just weeks after Musk claimed he and the mayor of LA had ‘promising talks’ about his plans to build an underground bus network.
As well as the news that it would be operating next week, Musk tweeted another video of the site and commented ‘Across the road and below the ground’.
He also revealed the location of the tunnel with a tweet that included a picture of the SpaceX headquarters and the comment ‘perspective’.
‘Just installed steel skeleton of the car/pod elevator. Should be operating next week’, the SpaceX founder tweeted today, with a five second video of the site
The Tesla founder said his ‘Godot’ machine had ‘begun boring and just completed the first segment of tunnel in LA’, while at the same time making bizarre declarations about his love of floors and tunnels.
Musk’s mention of ‘Godot’ appears to reference Samuel Beckett’s 1949 play, Waiting for Godot, where two melancholy men old men sit on mounds of Earth waiting for ‘Godot’ to arrive.
Seemingly excited by the progress of his plans to dig under the city, the billionaire then went on to post a number of other tweets about his love of floors.
On the subject of floors, Musk posted: ‘They will never let you down.
‘They are so underappreciated.
‘Just try one. It’s way better than you think.’
He added: ‘I love floors. Not as much as tunnels though.’
He also revealed the location of the tunnel with a tweet that included a picture of the SpaceX headquarters and the comment ‘perspective’
His posts come weeks after Musk claimed that he had ‘promising conversations’ with the Mayor of LA about creating a network of tunnels beneath the city.
The Tesla founder tweeted a video of Eric Garcetti saying that the Boring Company’s tunnel could provide a ‘quick and direct route from LAX to Union station.’
While this suggests that the Mayor is on board with the tunnelling plans, Musk added that getting permits would be harder than creating the technology itself.
Mr Garcetti spoke about the Boring Company’s tunnel during an interview on ABC 7.
And Elon Musk tweeted a link to this video, saying: ‘Promising conversations with @MayorOfLA regarding tunnel network that would carry cars, bikes and pedestrians. Permits harder than technology.’
Critics have slammed the plan as completely unrealistic as it would require a mass of permits and huge disruption as hundreds of tunnels and access ‘lifts’ are dug. Pictured is the first image released of the Boring Company’s tunnelling machine
‘Secondly, increase the speed of the Tunnel Boring Machine (TBM).
‘TBMs are super slow.
‘A snail is effectively 14 times faster than a soft-soil TBM.
‘Our goal is to defeat the snail in a race.’
Musk envisions a new breed of smaller, more powerful TBMs with triple the power of current machines that can tunnel continuously.