Elon Musk to test massive fuel tank for Mars colonization
The CEO of the commercial space company answers a handful of questions in a Reddit "Ask Me Anything" session Sunday, focusing on the company's audacious plan to colonize Mars.
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"Early tests are promising," Musk wrote in response to a question about the gigantic development tank that SpaceX has already built, which was revealed during the presentation in September. "Will take it up to 2/3 of burst pressure on an ocean barge in the coming weeks."
The tank Musk is referring to sort of a proof of concept for one of the refillable fuel tanks that would be used to fly a spaceship carrying up to 100 humans back and forth between Earth and Mars. This particular tank would carry liquid oxygen, one of two fuels (the other is methane) that SpaceX says could be made on Mars and used to power the ITS.
"The flight tank will actually be slightly longer than the development tank shown, but the same diameter," Musk explained. "In theory, it should hold cryogenic propellant without leaking and without a sealing linker."
He added that he envisions sending "a lot of miner/tunneling droids" in the beginning that could be used to create underground industrial areas while above-ground geodesic domes made from glass and carbon fiber frames can be used for "green living space."
Musk said the first crewed mission, which would be via the ITS using the aforementioned fuel tank, would probably be heavily loaded with cargo and "about a dozen people, as the goal will be to build out and troubleshoot the propellant plant and Mars Base Alpha power system."
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That's also the first time we've heard Musk use a name for his dream settlement.
But before Musk and SpaceX detail just what Mars Base Alpha will look like, the CEO says we'll likely get a glance of the "habitation section" of the ITS. In other words, what the living quarters of the spaceship to Mars would look like. This is a bigger deal than on most flights, since passengers will spend several months making the trip from Mars to Earth.
Musk said "actual live mockups" of the living quarters will be released "maybe in a year or two."