SpaceX’s Starship will fly to an altitude of 14 miles (22.5km) before landing on the same launch pad it will use to take off, according to the application filed with the US Federal Communications Commission, and an orbital test could take place as soon as October 13. Elon Musk‘s SpaceX hopes to use the craft to service “Moon bases and Mars cities”, and is designed to carry up to 100 people on “long-duration, interplanetary flights”. The progress marks significant progress toward a manned flight to Mars.
SpaceX’s mission is to send a first cargo mission to Mars in 2022 to “confirm water resources, identify hazards, and put in place initial power, mining, and life support infrastructure”.
In 2024, a second mission with cargo and crew is hoped for, with the goal of building a propellant depot and preparing for future crew flights.
The manifesto states: “The ships from these initial missions will also serve as the beginnings of the first Mars base, from which we can build a thriving city and eventually a self-sustaining civilisation on Mars.”
With frightening forecasts about the future of humanity’s survival on Earth, taking strain with a major drain on natural resources, the possibility of life beyond this planet offers hope and a possible solution to extinction for many.
However, scientists are eager to warn the population that life on Mars is not necessarily going to save us.
Speaking to Express.co.uk, NASA astronaut and physiologist Dr James Pawelczyk said: “I can’t speak for Mr Musk and certainly he represents one of the entities in commercial spaceflight that have been so dynamic brought a whole new energy to spaceflight.”
However, he added: “I don’t think [moving to Mars] is a viable solution quite honestly.
“We add about half a million people to the population of this planet every day I can’t imagine a launch capability where we’re taking a half a million people off-planet every day.
“We managed to take approximately 20 people off of the planet every year.
“So based on what we have for current launch technologies we can’t possibly solve population problems here on Earth, so that means will continue to accumulate.”
However, Dr Pawelczyk pointed out that, while colonising Mars might not be what saves our species, there is a lot of valuable work which could end up solving the problems we face on our planet.
He said: “What we can do is we can learn how to use more sustainable forms of energy and better ways.
“And certainly, spaceflight helps with that – the International Space Station runs on solar panels.
“The size of that is approximately the size of a football field, and here it is it’s been orbiting the Earth every 90 minutes for 20 years.”
This technology is already being used to develop infrastructure in space.
“We’ll be using solar electric propulsion to establish the Gateway and lunar orbit,” said Dr Pawelczyk.
“So these kinds of forms of how we can harvest new forms of energy are really some important answers for us here on Earth.”