At the International Astronautical Congress (IAC) in South Australia SpaceX CEO Elon Musk took to the stage to give an update on SpaceX’s plans for colonising Mars. Last year he introduced the rocket that would make Mars colonisation a reality. Now he’s added more refinements to that plan and changed things up a bit. He also outlined a new plan which could result in many getting free trips to space!

Mars Colonisation

Trip To Space

A Mars Colony, Step-By-Step

To start with though we’ll cover their plans for Mars. There was a lot more technical information this time around plus some amazing pictures shown. The ever expanding Mars base above reminded me of a video game, hard to imagine it may soon be reality.

Some key changes include an added wing to the BFR (Big Fucking Rocket) seen below. This is used to help balance and land the giant spaceship. Given it will have varying degrees of cargo and atmospheres to deal with it was unavoidable. SpaceX has also slightly reduced the carrying cargo of the BFR, although it still stands at a huge 150 tons.

There’s also a few new abilities shown below and the old timeline has been pushed out slightly. Elon also outlined some major testing they’ve already done of the fuel tanks and high efficiency rocket engines. While a lot of people criticise Elon’s ambitious goals, SpaceX has proven that they do indeed get there in the end. They now regularly land stage 1 orbital rockets on both ground and sea. They’ve significantly reduced the costs of delivering cargo to the ISS and satellites in general.

Trip To Space

Mars At Dusk

So while the delay of the Mars colonisation timeline isn’t fantastic, it’s not unexpected. It also doesn’t discount their level of commitment either. SpaceX’s long standing goal has always been to make humans a multi-planetary species. The new timeline has them landing up to two cargo based BFR’s on Mars by 2022.

After that they’re aiming for an additional two crewed BFR’s to be landed by 2024. It looks like we might have a second space race on our hands but this time between SpaceX and NASA! Nothing like a bit of healthy competition to get things done.

New Abilities Of The BFR

Trip To Space

The BFR Docking With ISS

Along with the updated Mars plans Elon also detailed some new abilities of the BFR. Hoping to cannibalise their own existing rockets he sees the BFR delivering satellites as well as cargo and humans to the ISS.

Trip To Space

Deploying Huge Satellites

While there are undoubtedly many customers for the above scenarios, Elon also asked the audience why it’s 2017 and yet we still don’t have a Moon base. Good question!

NASA and Russia recently signed an agreement to begin research on building a Moon base so perhaps one day we’ll see something like their promo picture below. It does seem a bit strange that we might essentially ignore the near by Moon and instead go direct to Mars.

Personally I’d be thrilled for either scenario but Mars does seem the cooler alternative. It also makes more sense from the perspective of ensuring Human survival in case of catastrophe.

Trip To Space

Moon Base Alpha

Earth To Earth With A Free Trip To Space

The extra exciting bit was the BFR’s Earth to Earth abilities outlined in the above short video. It’s hard to know when this will start to be available publicly but it looks like an amazing trip!

If you watch the video you’ll also see that while this is supposed to fly you from city to city… it also includes a free space trip! You get the full experience too including a huge, proper spaceship launch, insane travel speeds of over 25,000 km/h and even weightlessness.

As someone who has always had “go to space” on their bucket list this is something pretty exciting. I would personally not even care where the trip takes me, I’d still go on it in a heart beat. Getting the chance to ride on a real rocket, experience weightlessness, see the Earth from orbit and even be on board during a rocket landing would be amazing!

One of the most stunning points is that the cost of these trips will be “about the same as full fare economy” trips in regular aircraft’s! Just stop and think about that for a second as this has the potential to turn modern aviation on it’s head.

Not only could you fly anywhere in the world in under 60 minutes but you’d also get a free trip to space thrown in! Sure, it might not be official “space” – which is beyond 100 km above sea level – but I don’t think many will care. It will be extremely interesting to see when SpaceX starts to offer these trips and if they can hit those price targets.

So would you hop aboard a city to city BFR flight? How about a Earth to Moon or Mars flight? Let us know what you think in the comments below!

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Alex Shoolman

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