SpaceX Founder States He’ll put Humans on Mars in Twelve Years

image “Elon Musk has a vision and intends to drive it home with an interplanetary human mission to Mars by 2026. There is a Yiddish word, “chutzpah” that can be ascribed to Mr. Musk. The word roughly translates to mean gutsy or audacious…”

News credit:21st Centry Tech Website,date June 18th,2014


5 thoughts on “SpaceX Founder States He’ll put Humans on Mars in Twelve Years

  1. I find it impossible to conceive that we could successfully send humans to Mars in one decade without a dedicated effort involving thousands of experts and strong backing by many politicians, cutting edge technologies, and industries as was required in the Apollo-Moon era. And unfortunately I don’t see the Administration or this country currently inclined to dedicate the manpower or resources needed to make this happen. The US is too interested in looking inward instead of outward today, which is why NASA has been allowed to be so severely damaged by this Administration without the public taking notice or producing any outcry. Instead the US public seems to want to limit this country’s space exploration to the confines of science fiction epics on the big screen via Hollywood. I applaud Elon Musk’s vision and dedication, but the rest of us who have worked in the space program have seen what it takes to achieve something like this, and 10-12 years seems unreasonable. I sincerely hope I’m wrong, and Elon is right. As a space cadet who has worked for NASA for over 30 years, I would love him to be right. But I don’t have much hope in that. Instead I would push for NASA to reach again for the Moon in conjunction with our international partners, and I sincerely believe SpaceX would have a very important role in this endeavor with its heavy lift vehicles and possibly it’s new capsule. We should attempt to establish a permanent base on the Moon, something we should have followed through on in the seventies and beyond. Then the Moon can be a stepping off point for Mars. To me this is an achievable dream worth striving for and could be accomplished over the next 30 years with the right global resources.

  2. I agree that this timetable is highly unlikely, but I too applaud Musk for having the goal. I think his goal, while highly unlikely, is also much more than thrillionaire-speak on his part. He has more ability than most to keep this effort going. Who would have given him a chance 10 years ago to have a “new space” startup company be where SpaceX is now positioned.
    I also believe that if Mars is reached by humans within even 15 – 20 years, it will largely be the result of private initiatives versus Government/NASA, or otherwise. After all, Musk does not have to gain Congressional support to develop technical capabilities to reach any desired goals. While NASA and Congress continue to politic budgets and their own Congressional/State’s interests, SpaceX will innovate and attempt to move forward. SpaceX may falter, the space biz is unforgiving, but if they can bring impressive capabilities on line (landing boosters, Falcon Heavy, and Dragon V2), don’t be surprised to see new private supporters beginning to collaborate with them, e.g. Bigelow Industries, and others.

    • Please forgive my long reply, but here goes…

      First I sincerely applaud the excitement that SpaceX has generated in today’s under-supported space exploration environment. But, thinking on it long and hard, I have some caveats…

      President Kennedy made his Moon speech in May of 1961 and we landed on the Moon in July of 1969. So it took this great nation eight years to get to the Moon, even with large amounts of manpower, resources, and budget thrown at the goal (a remarkably short time in my opinion and of course one of the greatest accomplishments, if not the greatest, of the twentieth century). During this time, many new technologies had to be developed to make our President’s goal to reach the moon (and return) feasible. [Interestingly many of these technologies have morphed into advanced technologies we rely on today in our daily lives (transistors/semi-conductors, iPhones/Androids, satellites, GPS, the weather channel, insulation materials and composites, etc), but that’s an argument in favor of the space program that can be made in a different discussion ;D]. I admit we started back in 1961 with very limited infrastructure, unlike where we are today, but still it gives one an idea of what it takes to do something this immense. And I’m sure all would agree that going to Mars will be considerably harder, more complex, and magnitudes more expensive. Therefore I can perhaps accept 15-20 years as a possible timeframe for performing this amazing goal, but the money and drive have to be there. [Of course Musk never said anything about coming back from Mars, did he – just getting there].

      With that said, even if SpaceX walks on water (propellant?), Musk relies considerably on federal funding just like NASA and Boeing and the rest of the human space program industries do. In my opinion, due to the extreme magnitude of a Mars effort, no matter how many Bigelows or international partners come along to provide funding support to Mr. Musk, or how much innovating his great team does, this country will have to be willing to step up and pay him (or someone) the very big bucks to make a human Mars mission happen successfully.

      The next question is: if sufficient US money and political support is suddenly made available to support a human Mars mission, can we or should we rely on Musk’s SpaceX team to be the backbone for making this goal come true? Or do we turn back to old timey NASA (with Boeing, ULA, and others) to lead the way?

      I do not yet have the level of faith that many profess in Elon Musk being a potential leader in an effort like this, though I’m trying to get there. I still remember his promise of a crew transport vehicle to Station to be delivered first in 2009 and then, when this goal wasn’t achieved, “sometime soon”. These promises (and Musk’s constant “bad mouthing” of NASA) are one of the reasons our Administration cancelled our Shuttle Program in 2011 with no US replacement crew transfer vehicle available to take its place, causing us to be trapped into a monopoly controlled by the Russians. [Of course, the other reason was this Administration doesn’t give a flip about human space flight as they’ve demonstrated several times, but let’s set that fact aside for the moment]. So I have a bit of bitterness in my attitude toward Musk which I’m always trying to overcome. Admittably the Congress didn’t help by fighting among its constituents and cutting his budget while Musk was attempting to make good on his promises, but then whose to say they won’t do the same thing to him with any Mars initiative he wants them to finance? In my sad experience, this is what Congress does.

      However, I have also been immensely impressed with SpaceX’s recent technical progress in several areas (though I admit to some concern about the unknown shortcuts Musk’s team has had to take to get there – of course I’m old school so maybe shortcuts are okay now days?). I’m starting to believe Musk and his SpaceX team can maybe make some of their claims come true. Of course I would be more in support of Musk’s vision if he’d quit with the high glamour media blitzes and perhaps give us some basic hints to the technical path he would take to get to Mars (and back?). I did not care for his slick presentation of a crew capsule shell with limited hardware in place, for example (unlike the Orion and Boeing folks who have been working toward creating full test vehicles and mockups under the “old way of doing business” though they too are hampered by budget issues). I do wildly applaud SpaceX’s vertical flight demo’s – now that is the real thing! And SpaceX’s cargo flights to / from ISS have been reasonably successful (though not without some deliberately downplayed mishaps). But give SpaceX its due – they said they’d get a cargo vehicle to Station and they have!

      Of course, NASA’s recent track record with Constellation does give one pause too. There is a sad reason why many called that program Cancellation instead of Constellation. From the beginning, the way it was run, it’s mandated point design, and the budget limitations and high expectations it was placed under, were insurmountable obstacles to its success. On the flip side, my own experience with the Shuttle Program was completely different. Toward the last few years, the Shuttle Program was operating in a extremely efficient and safe manner with all NASA centers and contractors and management striving diligently toward successful flights and working supremely well together (with some gnashing of teeth between JSC and Marshall, but that’s the nature of the beast, eh). I would even say with much pride that during the last three years of the Shuttle program, we were operating like a well oiled machine. We had learned our lessons tragically well from our horrible accident, and we were determined to do things right. And I think we can do things right again if allowed to set up a similar infrastructure with the same open communication and expectation of technical excellence and safety. [And I would put on the table that the Station Program continues to work hard to do things right today too.]

      Bottom line – No matter who leads what, this country is not supporting its human space program anymore. It also seems to be drifting toward possible cancellation of several of its space science programs too. US social programs need the money it appears more than space exploration does (even though NASA’s budget is less than a penny out of every tax dollar). Maybe the Musk’s of this world are all we have to hope for. Or maybe the NASA team can rise to the challenge and lead us again. But space entrepreneurs and NASA are both still dependent on US provided funding and direction. Congress’s typical four year planning cycle and it’s ongoing desire to make the space industry into a job programs from which each state can profit will greatly undermine anyone’s success [be they amazing space entrepreneur or government-run entity] unless something drastically changes. To get to Mars (or the Moon), Washington needs to truly embrace space exploration again like it did in the 60′s – 90′s. And I greatly fear all the pretty speeches in the world aren’t going to make that happen anytime soon without a significant shift of personnel in the White House (and maybe not even then).

      “We have met the enemy and he is us.”

      End of ridiculously long reply…

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