Credit: Rod Pyle/Space.com
In an "Ask Me Anything" session on Reddit Monday evening (Jan. 5), Musk told readers that the details of his Mars Colonial Transporter would be unveiled by the end of the year, and that the plan would be different from the Dragon capsules and Falcon 9 rockets SpaceX is flying today.
"The Mars transport system will be a completely new architecture, " ]
The goal will be to send 100 metric tons (110 tons) of "useful payload, " he added. "This obviously requires a very big spaceship and booster system, " Musk said.
This year, SpaceX will also reveal plans for spacesuits that will meet both design aesthetics and utility requirements, Musk noted. Although he did not specify where the spacesuits would be used, it is possible that they could form the basis for future Mars exploration.
A rocket landing at sea
SpaceX is the first private company to deliver cargo to the International Space Station, which it did for the first time in 2012. The company has a $1.6 billion contract to provide 12 delivery missions to the station for NASA. A second company, Orbital Sciences, has a $1.9 billion deal with NASA for eight delivery missions.
Elon Musk founded SpaceX, where he is both CEO and chief designer, in 2002 with the goal of flying people in space. Last September, NASA picked the company as one of two firms to fly U.S. astronauts to the station beginning in 2017 under a separate contract. (Boeing was the other company selected.)
SpaceX's next flight to the space station, its fifth delivery flight so far, is set to launch at 4:47 a.m. EST (0947 GMT) on Saturday (Jan. 10) from Florida's Cape Canaveral Air Force Station. During that mission, a Dragon resupply ship will launch toward the station, and SpaceX will also attempt to land the first stage of the Falcon 9 rocket on an "autonomous spaceport drone ship" in the Atlantic Ocean. The mission was initially set to launch on Tuesday (Jan. 6), but a last-minute rocket issue delayed the flight.
While Musk discussed space travel possibilities that extend far into the future, he also mentioned some of the systems that the company is currently developing, including the reusable rocket test this week.
In response to a question about the planned Falcon 9 first-stage rocket landing, Musk said the stage would use...
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