Today, Elon Musk will finally tell the world how he wants to colonize Mars — an ambition of his that has served as the foundation for essentially all of his commercial spaceflight endeavors. Musk will specify his plans for making humans a multi-planetary species during a one-hour speech at the International Astronautical Congress in Guadalajara, Mexico. The event is scheduled for 2:30PM ET, and will hopefully provide more insight into Musk’s colonization plans, which have been something of a mystery up until now.
Musk’s colonization plans have been something of a mystery up until now
Musk has given some hints about his vision though. We know there are key pieces of hardware he wants to build to bring settlers to the Red Planet, including a massive rocket and a spaceship for transporting passengers and cargo. And late Sunday night, Musk gave us a sneak peek of the new powerful engine that those vehicles will use: the Raptor. SpaceX just conducted its first full-scale test of the Raptor engine, which is expected to be about as powerful as one of the main engines that powered the Space Shuttle. If all goes to plan, multiple raptor engines will help propel the first SpaceX settlers to Mars.
But starting a Mars settlement requires more than just rocket engines and spaceships. We still don’t know anything of the settlement’s habitats, and there’s the health of the humans to consider in this human colony. The environment of space is not an inviting one, and keeping people safe — both on the way to Mars and on the planet’s surface — will require technological solutions that haven’t been figured out just yet. Plus, there’s still one of the biggest questions of all: how will all of this be funded? SpaceX is known for its low launch costs, but a Mars colony will be an extremely expensive enterprise, and it seems unlikely the company will be able to pay for all of this on its own.
Perhaps we’ll get more answers to these questions today, or perhaps Musk’s revelations will create even more uncertainty about his Mars goals. But at long last, we’ll gain some insight into the CEO’s life's pursuit, allowing industry experts to scrutinize his concepts and judge if he and SpaceX can pull off something this ambitious.
How to watch
Starting time: San Francisco: 11:30AM PT / New York: 2:30PM ET / Guadalajara: 1:30PM CT
Live blog: Follow along with The Verge's live blog for updates, analysis, and pictures straight from the IAC in Guadalajara.
Live tweeting: Follow @Verge on Twitter for the latest news from Musk's speech.