Elon Musk’s Ambitious Mars Plan Now Online

A view from martian orbit. (Credit: SpaceX)

If you liked the talk, you’re going to love the paper.

New Space journal has published an article by SpaceX Founder Elon Musk in which he puts down in writing the presentation he gave in Mexico last year about his company’s plan for a human transportation system to Mars.

You can read the paper here.

  • Jacob Samorodin

    Musk is a fast-talking con artist. There are dreams that won’t bankrupt a country; then there are fantasies that turn into financial nightmares…Musk may find himself behind bars in the coming years after FBI auditors look over his books.

  • JamesG

    Qui audet adipiscitur

  • Vladislaw

    wow sounds like someone who didn’t buy Tesla shares @30 a share.

  • redneck

    Or notice that he is getting results. Con artists don’t deliver those.

  • windbourne

    Let’s see.
    1) He wanted to push America towards solar power. Tesla/solar city is the largest and least expensive installer of solar. In fact, solar is now 2% of America’s energy. So check.
    2) he wanted to push the world to EVs. Tesla is already one of the world’s largest maker of EVs, and within a year, will be bigger than the rest combined. In fact, he is forcing regular car makers to move to EVs .
    So check.
    3) he wanted to create inexpensive access to space. Spacex is already the cheapest, and about to get a lot cheaper.
    This has forced all other nations to rethink.
    So check.

    And now you claim that he is like trump, basically a con man. Hmm.
    So far, no lies from musk, and he does what he says he will.

  • JamesG

    And seriously, have you ever listened to Elon talk? Its not fast.

  • Mr Snarky Answer

    Ha, you’re right. Fast talkers don’t get tripped up describing TEA/TEB in a Mars presentation.

  • Geoff T

    It’s amazing that in an industry full of bullshitters, over-promiser’s, hair brained schemes and outright conman (Branson, Diamandis, Allen; assign titles as you see fit) the one man who can consistently deliver his promises (if often late) is the one who gets the most flak.

    If it wasn’t for the exploits of SpaceX sometimes it’d feel like this site was nothing but an endless stream of press releases, CGI mockups and false promises!

  • duheagle

    Don’t know if SpaceX actually has a corporate motto. But it could do worse than borrow from the SAS. I think the original English rolls more trippingly off the tongue than the Latin translation in any case. “Adipiscitur” really sounds as though it ought to mean “fat fisherman.” Even “Gradatim Ferociter” sounds better than that.

  • duheagle

    That’s maybe a bit unkind. Personally, I don’t think the percentage is much above 75. 🙂

  • duheagle

    Other than your reflexive Trump dig, I quite agree. Mr. Musk is a serial schedule optimist, but is not, and has never been, a fabulist.

  • duheagle

    Mr. Musk’s Mars plans wouldn’t even bankrupt your country, never mind the U.S. But that is rather beside the point.

    Mr. Musk intends to do this entirely on his own dime if at all possible. I think it will be. That isn’t to say he won’t take outside capital. Any outside money will likely come from other billionaire Silicon Valley types – Mr. Musk knows all the ones who really count and has for a long time.

    Musk puts in that boilerplate public-private partnership stuff simply to be diplomatic. If any U.S. government funds eventually go into his Mars effort, they will be modest and quite late in arriving in all likelihood. I expect some sort of last-minute, fig-leaf-type buy-in by NASA simply to avoid what would otherwise be a possibly terminal case of embarrassment. That’ll happen once it’s sufficiently clear SpaceX is going to Mars in any case. NASA will not want to be left conspicuously standing on the platform as the train pulls out.

  • publiusr

    I think one of the reason folks doubt newspace was because Gary Hudson’s involvement seemed like the kiss of death to any project. Lot’s of bad memories of Kistler and the like.

  • publiusr

    I think there will be some updates this Sept–a year after his ITS release.

    I’m thinking he’s going to have to scale things up after the rupture.

  • JamesG

    Up? Probably down so that fabrication can more easily handle it without having to add margin/mass.

  • duheagle

    I hope you’re right about an update. I’d like to see an all-freight version of the upper stage, for instance. That seems the obvious way to get big pieces of industrial plants and heavy construction equipment to Mars.

    In the just-published paper, Musk already hints at some increases in scale – notably a mention of upping the passenger load from 100 to 200. That might be straightforwardly accomplished airliner-style by just lengthening the upper stage. Even 200 people with a ton of consumables and baggage apiece would weigh less than a load of propellant sent up in a tanker.

    I see, however, you are still fixated on regarding the planned rupture of the test article ITS LOX tank as some kind of setback or accident. It was neither.

  • duheagle

    That seems pointless. If there was any intention of building a sub-scale system first, the prototype LOX tank SpaceX constructed would have been smaller. It wasn’t.

  • JamesG

    Unless they’ve realized they’ve bit off more than they can engineer.

  • duheagle

    Both Gary Hudson’s efforts at least produced full-scale hardware. There are plenty of dead New Space companies that didn’t even manage to do that. Gary’s biggest problem was that he started way too early. NASA was still actively trying to kill New Space companies – and generally succeeding – until the turn of the millennium.

    NASA made no exceptions even for one of their own – or former own. Pete Conrad’s rocket company got shot down too. You’d think commanding the second-ever Moon shot would maybe buy you some slack from the empire-builders in Houston. Apparently not. As the saying goes, you can always recognize the true pioneers; they’re the ones with arrows in their backs.

    Kistler’s investors thought they’d avoid that sort of problem by bringing on some former senior NASA managers to run their show once they had a concept pretty well worked out. None of these loose-cannon astronauts, mind you, just good, solid high-mileage chair-warmers.

    Unfortunately, the new management decided to go with something much more conventional than Kistler’s original engineering staff had designed. Said staff quickly got shown the door. The new engineers were steeped in the Old Space ways of doing things, including going to the uber-expensive usual suspects to do all the actual component fabrication. Kistler burned through its money at a sprightly clip, couldn’t get any more, lost its NASA COTS contract and died.

    Oh yeah, there was that merger with Rocketplane that didn’t work out too well either. That project seems to have gone through more concept changes than even the vertical launcher the Kistler part of the operation was working on.

    People used to doubt New Space because NASA spent a lot of behind-the-scenes effort telling them they should. Then there were the Kistler-type cases where ex-NASA managers drove promising companies under through a complete lack of business acumen.

    Some people – yourself apparently among them – still have this “Only NASA knows how to do space” meme obdurately lodged in their brains. Many of the rest of us used to buy into this line of crap too, but we got wise at some point. It isn’t generally a Paul-of-Tarsus-on-the-road-to-Damascus experience, just a slow accumulation of evidence that runs counter to the meme.

    You need to get out of the Cult of NASA. Free your mind and your ass will follow.

  • publiusr

    It isn’t a cult it is a resource. I can wish Old Space and new space well.