Elon Musk has daring plans for the new SpaceX Ship. The ship was supposed to reach Mars by 2018, but the CEO of Tesla now wants to go even further than that.
The new SpaceX ship was called Mars Colonial Transporter, a clear indication that Musk was planning on sending humans to the planet, not just visit it. But earlier this week, Musk announced via his Twitter account that the ship could go well beyond Mars, and thus would need a new name, to reflect that. After receiving suggestions from his Twitter followers, Musk finally decided on the name “Interplanetary Transport System,” which has a certain SF ring to it.
His initial plan seemed quite ambitious by itself. Musk was working on a new SpaceX ship that, according to him, could land on the Red Planet as early as 2018. Reaching Mars however is not as easy as it may seem. Many countries have tried to do that in the past, and few succeeded. A private company has never attempted to do anything similar, and Musk’s chances of success seemed limited.
This would be just the initial of a much larger plan of eventually getting humans on Mars. SpaceX and NASA partnered up in this endeavor. However, SpaceX has been known to pull off the impossible more than once.
Earlier this year, the company managed to land a rocket. This might not seem like a lot, but it’s actually a very big deal. Once they’ve left Earth’s atmosphere, rockets are usually discarded into space. The be able to bring one back and reuse it would save billions of dollar, and countless hours of work on building new rocket ships.
On the other hand, SpaceX has faced some setbacks as well. Recently, another SpaceX rocket exploded before launch. The rocket was carrying a Facebook satellite that would have provided large areas of Africa with internet. The causes of the explosion are still unclear. But the accident did prompt some to ask whether or no Musk is moving a little bit too fast with his projects.
On the other hand, such accidents are bound to happen in the realm of science. They are an integral part of scientific success. And luckily, no one was hurt in the explosion.
New SpaceX Ship Has Its Work Cut Out for It
The Soviet Union was the first to successfully land a spaceship on Mars, in 1971. The probe managed to send managed to communicate with home for a few minutes, and then went silent. The US has had several successful attempts at landing ships and Mars rovers on the Red Planet.
One of the problems that makes it so difficult to land a ship on Mars is that the Earth and Mars align once every 26 months. This would mean that the new SpaceX ship has a very narrow window of success. Then, there’s the actual trip itself. It would take nearly seven months for a ship to reach the Red Planet’s surface, depending in where it’s going to land. If anything goes wrong, it’s nearly impossible to help at such a great distance.
This is not the only Mars-landing project currently under development. Both China and India are planning on reaching the Red Planet. There’s hopes are somewhat less ambitious. The countries want to reach the planet in 2020. China will also be sending a rover, to pick up more data on the planet’s surface.
At least when it comes to Mars, scientists at least have some idea of how it works. Landing on a planet beyond Mars has never been tried, and we lack experience when it comes to such a mission.
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