Elon Musk has outlined a plan to begin colonizing Mars by 2022, and it involves space stations, a moonbase, and what he calls a “Big Fucking Rocket.”
Speaking in Australia for the International Astronautical Congress, Musk said, “I can’t think of anything more exciting than being out there among the stars,” The Advertiser reported.
Musk’s plans center around the Big Fucking Rocket (or BFR), a 48-meter-long, 85-ton ship, bigger than an A380 plane, that his SpaceX company has started work on. The rocket would, Musk said, be capable of traveling to the moon and then returning without the need for new propellant halfway.
That, he said, would allow for the creation of a lunar base. “It’s 2017. We should have a lunar base by now,” the billionaire said.
Musk said that by 2022, he could send two cargo ships to the red planet. These would identify water sources, check for hazards, and set up power, mining and other infrastructure to prepare for more human colonizers.
By 2024, Musk said, 100 people could then travel to the planet in the BFR. This launch would involve four ships, two of them carrying people.
Musk also had ideas for the financing of some of the plan. He said that SpaceX could start transporting people around Earth on its rockets, showing a video of what a 39-minute trip from New York to Shanghai would look like.
“If we’re building this thing to go to Mars," Musk asked, "why not go to other places on Earth as well?”
And he said that the resources the company currently spends on developing its other products, including the Falcon9, Dragon and Heavy spacecraft, could ultimately all be diverted into the BFR.
The key, Musk added, is to make spacecraft that are fully reusable. That way, the company only needs to pay the relatively low cost of fuel, rather than replacing whole sections of a ship. The BFR will have six engines, and will land using either of the center two, minimizing the risk of crash landings.