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Nov 18, 2021

SpaceX details plan to build Mars Base Alpha with reusable Starship rockets

Posted by in categories: Elon Musk, space travel, sustainability

For the first time, SpaceX has teamed up with researchers from NASA and several other US institutions to publicly discuss how it plans to use Starship to build Mars Base Alpha.

Save for a handful of comments spread around the periphery of SpaceX and CEO Elon Musk’s main focus, Starship itself, the company and its executives have almost never specifically discussed how the next-generation fully-reusable rocket will be used to create a permanent human presence on Mars. For the most part, that clear focus on near-term hurdles is hard to fault. Half a century of mostly theoretical analysis has made it abundantly clear that a permanent and sustainable extraterrestrial human outpost is impossible without a radical reduction in the cost of access to space. For decades, NASA has studied and studied and studied slight variations of a plan that would cost hundreds of billions of dollars to send a few astronauts to Mars for a few months at a time.

Put simply, without a revolution in space transport, even a temporary presence on Mars where inhabitants are mostly dependent on imported goods is infeasible unless Mars exploration is made a national or international priority on the order of tens of billions of dollars per year. Over the 80–90 years that spaceflight has been seriously pondered, dozens of groups and papers and studies and space agencies have imagined what that revolution might look like and SpaceX is not unique for proposing a solution to that longstanding problem. However, SpaceX is the first of that long list of contenders to propose a solution and both invest significant resources and put hammer to metal in an attempt to make that vision real.

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