spaceSpace and Physics

Elon Musk Is About To Reveal New Details Of His Plans To Colonize Mars


Jonathan O'Callaghan

Senior Staff Writer

Musk speaking at the IAC last year. SpaceX/YouTube

Battle stations, people. In two days, Elon Musk is going to unveil new details about his bold plan to colonize Mars, and hopefully address some concerns.

Musk first revealed his plan at the International Astronautical Congress (IAC) in Mexico in September 2016. This Friday, September 29 at 12.30am EST (get that coffee ready) he’ll be speaking again at the IAC, this year in Adelaide, Australia, to update us on the Interplanetary Transport System (ITS).


There will be a livestream available of the talk here, which will last about an hour, followed by a Q&A session.


First, a recap. The ITS was an incredibly ambitious plan for SpaceX to get 1 million people living on Mars in a century. Using a huge rocket (nicknamed the Big F*cking Rocket, or BFR) and a large Shuttle, Musk said he could transport up to 200 people to Mars on trips lasting 80 days, ultimately colonizing the Red Planet and giving humanity a new home.

The plan has not been without criticism, not least how we would finance the endeavor, and the fact a lot of the technologies he proposed – such as taking off from Mars – are still unproven. Several industry experts told IFLScience they thought the plans were unrealistic, if not completely impossible.

Musk will be seeking to address some of those concerns tomorrow. In several posts on Twitter and Instagram, he said he would reveal “major improvements and some unexpected applications”. He also said we could expect to see footage of the new Raptor engine, which will power the rocket, in action.


What else we might see, well, that’s pure speculation. We’ll probably see Musk reveal a scaled-down version of the BFR, notes The Verge, which was originally planned to be 120 meters (400 feet) tall and 12 meters (40 feet) wide. That’s bigger than the largest rocket ever launched, the Saturn V.

Musk will hopefully also reveal how he’s going to fund the project, at least partly. Since the talk last year he has also revealed SpaceX plans to send two astronauts around the Moon in 2018 (on a Dragon, not the ITS), so perhaps we’ll see a more structured development timeline to the ITS. And maybe he’ll even reveal who those two astronauts will be.

One thing for sure is that, come Friday, your news feed is going to be chock full of Elon Musk news, hot takes, and no doubt a fair amount of criticism again.


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