SpaceX has released a simulation video of Mission to Mars, showcasing Elon Musk’s vision of what the future of space travel could look like, including a colony on the Red Planet.
The 5-minute animation starts off showing Starbase, SpaceX’s base on the Gulf Coast of Texas, before the Starship rocket takes off. Built from shiny stainless-steel, with its nostril embellished with fins and ten metres taller than the giant Saturn V rocket, Starship seems to be poised to revolutionise space travel. Capable of transporting thousands of tonnes in weight and greatly reduce back and forth travelling between space and Earth, the fully reusable rocket holds the key of Musk’s settlement of a colony on Mars.
Soon after take-off, the rocket breaks in two, the 33-engine first stage returns to base and smoothly lands back at the orbital launch tower, while the 50-metre-tall upper stage docks onto a tanker in Earth orbit to fuel up for the long journey ahead.
The video pans over Mars’ orbit then switches to a from-land view that shows there are total of four ships approaching the planet, leaving bright tails behind them. After a perfect landing, the doors of the rocket open and four astronauts gaze at the domed habitat in the middle of the human settlement seemingly flourishing on the Red Planet.
In February 2022, Musk detailed his vision of the future of space travel and of humans becoming an inter-planetary species. His ambitious goal envisions the creation of a colony on Mars, an “insurance coverage”, he said, where humanity would be protected from existential dangers on Earth. “Starship is capable of doing that”, Musk said. “It’s capable of getting a million tonnes to the surface of Mars and creating a self-sustaining city and I think we should try to do that as soon as we can.”
The critical threshold for Mars is to have a city that is self-sustaining, he continued, recognising the difficulty of the ambition and even acknowledging that “if any ingredient is missing”, however minor it may be, the city would die out. If Earth stops sending shuttles to Mars, Musk envisioned, a colony on the Red Planet could be in jeopardy.
A few months later, SpaceX’s chief operating officer Gwynne Shotwell announced that people will reach Mars by the end of the decade, within 5 or 6 years to be more precise. While the company has ambitious plans, two start-ups have partnered to beat Musk to Mars, pledging a trip in 2024.