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Next leap: Mars

Space Industry

The last day of the International Astronautical Congress in Adelaide, South Australia became a battle of the mars missions between SpaceX and Lockheed Martin.

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International Astronautical Congress

Elon Musk took to a packed house to outline his new BFR plans while Lockheed Martin started the day with their ideas on a base camp.

Musk set a timeframe of 2022, telling the thousands of space experts gathered at the IAC in South Australia that it was “not a typo”, with a follow up mission of four spaceships by 2024.

“Five years seems like a long time to me,” Musk said, outlining that he was confident he could make the deadline because SpaceX would now dedicate all its efforts and resources to build the BFR.

The day began, however, with the Lockheed Martin Mars Base Camp team explaining their 1000-day mission. Their point of difference being that they will use technology already available, just configured in a different way to travel to the red planet.

Lockheed Martin plans to fuel it’s endeavor by converting the water available in space to liquid hydrogen, setting up refueling stations along the way to Mars.

“We can create the fuel. We can power the entire spacecraft system just with water because we can create hydrogen.”

The Lockheed Martin mission is based on finding private corporations, such as the Audi symbol they placed on their mars rover concept, to buy into the mission and also buy the resources that are found on the Moon and Mars or its moons.

“You need to find something that earthlings will buy,” says mission leader Rob Chambers when discussing the commercial value of the plan.

“It seems crazy, but earthlings will buy water from the Moon. Not to bring down here and drink. To bring it to low earth orbit and use it to service spacecraft. That allows the commercial entities to tie into the Leo spacecraft. That’s the water based economy of the future.”

Musk also discussed the commercial aspects of his plans, stating that the reusability of his rockets was crucial to the viability.

“It’s crazy that we build sophisticated rockets and crash them every time we fly,” Musk said.

He added that the ability to refuel the rockets with low cost liquid oxygen also brought the cost down because the BFR would be able to refill in Earth’s orbit and then make it the entire way to Mars.

Musk said work servicing and launching satellites, supplying the ISS and establishing a moon base would help pay for the big plans.

SpaceX will use supply missions by BFR to ISS to help pay for the quest to get to Mars by 2022.

Neither of the ventures released cost estimates of their plans.

More than 4500 delegates spent the week in Adelaide, South Australia networking to discuss the space ventures of the future. The week began with Australia announcing it would form its own Space Agency, which became a theme for the congress.

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