Musk Talks About Mars Plans, Upgraded Falcon 9 During Reddit AMA

Interplanetary Transport System (Credit: SpaceX)
Interplanetary Transport System (Credit: SpaceX)

SpaceX CEO Elon Musk did an Ask Me Anything session on Reddit on Sunday afternoon about his Interplanetary Transport System (ITS) and plans to colonize Mars. Musk also provided an update on upgraded Falcon 9 Block 5 booster which SpaceX expects to launch for the first time next year.

Below are some key excerpts. You can find the full session here.


Musk’s Mars Memes: My Heart Will Go On (Even When Earth is Gone)

A view from martian orbit. (Credit: SpaceX)
A hypothetical view from martian orbit. (Credit: SpaceX)

The first in an occasional series on Elon Musk’s Mars plan.

By Douglas Messier
Managing Editor

Elon Musk’s gigantiastic plan for transporting a million settlers to Mars is based on two basic premises that are alternately hopeful and apocalyptic. One is to have a great adventure while expanding humans out into space. The other is to save humanity from itself.


Kim Stanley Robinson: Musk’s Mars Scenario “Not Believable”

The Interplanetary Transport System compared with other boosters. (Credit: SpaceX)
The Interplanetary Transport System compared with other boosters. (Credit: SpaceX)

Science fiction author Stanley Robinson of Mars Trilogy fame says he finds a lot of familiar elements in Elon Musk’s plans for Mars. But not necessarily in a good way. Below are excerpts from a Q&A he did with Bloomberg News.

Q. It’s 2024. Musk figures everything out and gets funding. He builds his rocket, and 100 people take off. Several months later, they land (somehow) and have to get to work remaking a planet.

I have to note, first, that this scenario is not believable, which makes it a hard exercise to think about further. Mars will never be a single-person or single-company effort. It will be multi-national and take lots of money and lots of years.

Musk’s plan is sort of the 1920s science-fiction cliché of the boy who builds a rocket to the moon in his backyard, combined with the Wernher von Braun plan, as described in the Disney TV programs of the 1950s. A fun, new story.

Q. What needs to happen for the Mars colony to live sustainably and give humanity the lifeboat Musk envisions?

It’s important to say that the idea of Mars as a lifeboat is wrong, in both a practical and a moral sense.

There is no Planet B, and it’s very likely that we require the conditions here on earth for our long-term health. When you don’t take these new biological discoveries into your imagined future, you are doing bad science fiction.

Read the full interview.

Bridenstine’s Bill Would Radically Restructure NASA

NASA LOGOBy Douglas Messier
Managing Editor

NASA would be given a mandate to pioneer the development and settlement of space and a commission dominated by Congressional appointees to oversee those efforts under a bill proposed by Rep. Jim Bridenstine (R-OK).

The measure’s basic premise is that NASA’s problems stem from unstable presidential commitments to space exploration as opposed to Congress’ tendency to support expensive programs that bring funding into particular states and districts.

“Over the past twenty years, 27 NASA programs have been cancelled at a cost of over $20 billion to the taxpayer,” according to a statement on a website devoted to the measure. “Many of these have come as a result of changes in presidential administrations.


Rohrabacher Introduces Space Development & Settlement Act

Rep. Dan Rohrabacher
Rep. Dan Rohrabacher

Rep. Dana Rohrabacher (R-Calif.) has introduced a bill that would enshrine the development and human settlement of space as one of NASA’s objectives.

The Space Exploration, Development, and Settlement (SEDS) Act of 2016 would require NASA pursue “the expansion of permanent human presence beyond low-Earth orbit in a way that enables human settlement and a thriving space economy.”

Rohrabacher’s bill would add the following text to the National Aeronautics and Space Act:

Exploration, development, and settlement of space.—The Congress declares that expanding permanent human presence beyond low-Earth orbit in a way that enables human settlement and a thriving space economy will enhance the general welfare of the United States and requires the Administration to encourage and support the development of permanent space settlements.

SPACE SETTLEMENT.—The term ‘space settlement’ means any community of humans living beyond Earth’s atmosphere that is able to economically sustain its population through a neutral or positive balance of trade of goods and services, and is able to expand its habitable real estate as need and desire of the community may warrant and international law permits.”.

The measure would require the NASA Administrator to produce a report every two years on the space agency’s progress “toward expanding permanent human presence beyond low-Earth orbit in a way that enables human settlement and a thriving space economy.”

The bill has been referred to the House Committee on Science, Space, and Technology.

Video: Musk Talks About SpaceX, Mars Settlement

Musk begins talking about SpaceX at 27:48. Hopes to go to space station in five years. Hopes to launch crew to Mars around 2025. Will describe the Mars Colonial Transporter in September at the International Astronautical Conference in Guadalajara. Mexico.

Space Frontier Foundation Unveils Settlement Enabling Test

Artist's conception of a Bigelow lunar habitat. (Credit: Bigelow Aerospace)
Artist’s conception of a Bigelow lunar habitat. (Credit: Bigelow Aerospace)

Washington, DC (SFF PR) – The Space Frontier Foundation is pleased to announce the creation of a new tool, the Settlement Enabling Test. This tool acknowledges that our fundamental goal in space exploration is large scale space settlement, and provides a way to determine if our national space policy is delivering on the promise of space settlement. This expands on our previous Frontier Enabling Test that has been with us since our founding.


Bigelow Urges Lunar COTS Program, Wants Moon Property Rights Review

Artist's conception of a Bigelow lunar habitat. (Credit: Bigelow Aerospace)
Artist’s conception of a Bigelow lunar habitat. (Credit: Bigelow Aerospace)

A report by Bigelow Aerospace that was commissioned by NASA urges the U.S. space agency to take a commercial approach to lunar transportation  similar to the one used to develop transport services to the International Space Station, according to published reports.

Company founder Robert Bigelow, who has ambitious plans for private space stations and lunar bases, said on Tuesday that he will be applying to the FAA’s Office of Commercial Space Tranportation (AST) for a policy review of lunar property rights by the end of this year, Jeff Foust reports from Washington, DC.


Mars One: What’s in a Number?

MarsOne_logoAny group that attempts to colonize Mars will need to be very, very good with numbers. They will need good mathematical skills to figure out trajectories, entry paths, landing velocity, consumables per person, and a whole host of things that will determine success or failure.

So, if you see a group dedicated to Mars colonization that is playing fast and loose with the numbers, be wary. Be very, very wary.

Which brings us to Mars One and its ebullient founder, Bas Lansdorp.

“In the 5 month application period, Mars One received interest from 202,586 people from around the world, wanting to be amongst the first human settlers on Mars,” the group boasted in a press release published on Monday.

Two hundred thousand people. Wow, that sounds incredible, doesn’t it? Actually, it does, with an emphasis on the “in”.


Palazzopalooza ’13: A Giant Leap Backward

Like House Republicans, Archie and Edith Bunker yearned for an earlier, simpler era that never really existed. Well, Archie more than Edith. And, at least he was very funny. Congress…not so much. (Credit: CBS Television)

“Boy the way Beatles played
Songs from Sgt. Pepper’s parade.
Guys like us we had it made,
Those were the days….”

By Douglas Messier
Parabolic Arc Managing Editor

In this edition of “Palazzopalooza: We’ll Bamboozle Ya!,” we look at how the House’s nostalgia for the past is preventing it from dealing with the realities of the present.

Today’s conservative Republicans are by far the most nostalgic of Americans. They yearn for a earlier, simpler time when America was a far more perfect union. Unfortunately, their visions are often rather selective, ignoring unpleasant realities of the past and the limitations of the present day.

This is, sadly, what we see in the NASA budget the House passed last week. Just how far in the past are Congressmen living? Decades.


Video: Elon Musk Talks Mars, Tech Innovation

Video Caption: Elon Musk, CEO of SpaceX, is the world’s leading space entrepreneur. Hear how Musk plans to send millions of people to colonize Mars, as Michelle Fields talks to the tech innovator about the future of space exploration, scientific innovation and doing business in California during a recession.

More Than 78,000 Apply for One-Way Trip to Mars

MarsOne_logoAmersfoort, Netherlands, 7th May 2013 (Mars One PR) — Just two weeks into the nineteen week application period, more than seventy-eight thousand people have applied to the Mars One astronaut selection program in the hope of becoming a Mars settler in 2023.

Mars One has received applications from over 120 countries. Most applications come from USA (17324), followed by China (10241), United Kingdom (3581), Russia, Mexico, Brazil, Canada, Colombia, Argentina and India.


Download Gerard K. O’Neill’s The High Frontier for Free Until Midnight Tonight

The-High-Frontier-88-182x300Gerard K. O’Neill’s classic The High Frontier has now been released as an Amazon Kindle ebook — and you can own it absolutely free!

From Saturday April 20th to Tuesday April 23rd, the Kindle edition of The High Frontier is absolutely free. Just open the Kindle app on your iOS, Android, Windows PC or Mac and type High Frontier in the Kindle store, or get your free Kindle edition directly from the website at .

The High Frontier was a milestone in the work to make the dream of Space Settlement real for everyone. So many lives were changed by this book. Now a new digital generation can learn the needs, the goals and the potentials that Professor O’Neill made so clearly understandable.