Eric Jin Western Academy of Beijing 11th Grade
On February 6th, 2018 Space X launched the most powerful rocket ever built: The Falcon Heavy rocket. This rocket soared through the sky from Kennedy Space Center in Florida and market another milestone for Space X. The rocket is capable of lifting 64 metric tons to space, more than any other rocket in the world. This successful launch is part of Space X’s larger mission to sustain human society on Mars to become an interplanetary species. It seems the world’s thirst for launching humans to space wasn’t completely satisfied by the excitement of the Space Age and an ambitious private company is aiming is gaining massive attention. On September 27th, 2016, Elon Musk, founder of Space X, revealed the company’s ambitious plan to establish manned missions to Mars and eventually colonize the red planet.
From ancient astronomers to hit film sagas such as Star Wars and Star Trek, humanity has been greatly fascinated by the mystery and wonders of the cosmos for millennia. With the successful launch of Falcon Heavy and Elon’s announcement of Mars, our long-held fascination bears anticipation as Space X indicates a bold pathway to potentially truly be among the vast planets in the universe.
Musk’s ultimate plan is to launch an Interplanetary Transport System (ITS), which consists of the rocket and crew cargo carrying at least 100 people, to Mars and over time establish a permanent independent colony, allowing humanity to be interplanetary. The ITS is a 400 feet behemoth would produce 13,033 tons of thrust, a whopping 3.6 times greater than that of NASA’s Saturn V moon rocket. This operation would typically cost around ＄10 billion per seat to send people to Mars but Elon says that the ITS could lower the price to ＄200,000 or even ＄100,000 per seat, a monumental cut. In addition, Space X aims to send 1 million people to Mars in the next 50 to 100 years and intends to begin missions in 2024.
Furthermore, Space X’s low costs provide a practical prospect to interplanetary travel. This is in part due to the company’s business model, which takes advantage of a predominantly in-house design and manufactures. Consequently, Space X is able to cut major costs in developing its rockets. In fact, the company develops around 85% of all the components of their rocket’s without further purchasing parts from additional suppliers. In addition, Space X has created reusable rockets through a recovery landing system (without parachutes) and have successfully launched and landed a first stage rocket component in 2015. This reusability saves tremendous costs as the component does not have to be remade for new launches.
Hence, the success and practicality of space vehicle launches under Space X bring about a new wave of excitement into the pragmatic potential of colonies on other planets. Hence, this could potentially open a great new corridor of new scientific opportunities and allow humanity to explore the vast reaches of Space. In addition, Space X’s mission to Mars is one of undoubted anticipation and wonder. The innovation in technology and business cost compliments Space X’s ambitions of exploring space as it continues its way towards a settlement on Mars and a new, interplanetary beginning for humanity.
<Eric Jin Western Academy of Beijing 11th Grade