Billionaire Elon Musk announced his company SpaceX is developing a new rocket that will go to Mars and beyond starting in 2018.
Musk will reveal technical details about the so-called Interplanetary Transport System (ITS) rocket in a speech Tuesday to the International Astronautical Congress in Mexico. Apparently, the system will be capable of traveling beyond Mars.
“I think, if things go according to plan, we should be able to launch people probably in 2024, with arrival in 2025,” Musk said at Code Conference 2016 in California. “The basic game plan is we’re going to send a mission to Mars with every Mars opportunity from 2018 onwards. They occur approximately every 26 months. We’re establishing cargo flights to Mars that people can count on for cargo.”
Musk made the announcement shortly after the explosion of a SpaceX rocket in early September, which will likely cost his cash strapped company $120 million.
SpaceX has had several rockets explode during landing attempts. It took nearly six months before Falcon 9 launches were resumed after SpaceX’s last launch failure. Musk’s business rivals have estimated that it could take up to a full year for SpaceX to resume launches.
The ITS is likely the rocket Musk plans to send to Mars in 2018. The billionaire has previously stated the ITS will be capable of sending about 10 people to Mars to establish a colony. In time, Musk hopes that such an outpost could grow into something much larger and become self-sustaining, housing at least 1 million people.
Musk has not yet revealed the size of the ITS, but it could be the largest rocket in history.
Amazon founder and billionaire Jeff Bezos’s private space company Blue Origin unveiled plans earlier this month for the largest rocket in existence.
Blue Origin’s two-stage New Glenn rocket will be 270 feet tall and 23 feet in diameter and capable of generating 3.85 million pounds of thrust. This is much larger than Musk’s planned 230-foot-tall Falcon Heavy rocket.
Bezos’s rocket will also be much larger than NASA’s planned 212-foot-tall Space Launch System rocket, which will only by capable of generating 3.6 million pounds of thrust. New Glenn’s engines will burn liquefied natural gas and oxygen. Blue Origin’s very first orbital rocket will have slightly more than half the thrust of the Saturn V rockets that carried humans to the moon.
When announcing the capabilities of his new rocket, Bezos took every opportunity to highlight that his company spends zero tax dollars, while SpaceX benefits from lucrative financial arrangements with NASA.
Blue Origin has been competing with companies like Musk’s SpaceX to develop the first fully reusable rocket. Bezos’s company successfully landed the first reusable rocket after officially going to space in November, and has repeated the feat four times.
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