Elon Musk has made a number of headlines over the years for the different technologies that he is involved in. In this article we will look at each of these and how we believe they will be relevant for a future colony on Mars.
Rockets and Spacecraft (SpaceX)
SpaceX have made quite a name for themselves with the introduction of the Falcon 9 rocket, the Dragon Cargo capsule and is working on the Dragon Crew capsule as well as a more powerful engine currently named Raptor.
However they are not just looking to launch stuff into space, SpaceX were the first and currently only commercial provider for the International Space Station to provide cargo return to Earth. They are also working on landing the first stage of their Falcon 9 rocket initial on a ocean bound platform but longer term return to land. The next test of this is scheduled for there first Return to Flight after the June lose of mission. Eventually the Dragon Crew capsule will also offer propulsive landing capabilities. They have also streamlined the production of the rockets to reduce costs.
So how is this relevant to Mars? The ability to land on the surface of Mars will be critical to any manned mission, the technology that SpaceX are working on will enable this. In addition in the future crew will need the ability to launch from Mars having a streamlined production system using local resources will enable this.
Internet Satellites (SpaceX)
Elon announced early this year that SpaceX would be building a fleet of satellites that would provide global Internet service. Built at there new Redmond, Washington location the fleet will be based on a new, low-cost, high-performance satellite bus.
So how is this relevant to Mars? In the short-term this may not seem relevant to Mars however we disagree, while a base may be small the ability to communicate with vehicles and crews as they adventure around Mars will be critical and being able to do this with a fleet of spacecraft will enable that.
Solar Power Generation (Solar City)
Solar City are one of the biggest providers of residential solar systems in the US and they continue to set records for the amount of power that is generated.
So how is this relevant to Mars? Solar Power will be key to future bases on Mars, with the resistance to Nuclear Power in space and the initial lack of power stations on Mars there will need to be a way of generating power when the crew first arrives. Longer term Methane based power plants could be built.
Power Batteries (Tesla Energy)
Elon recently announced a series of Batteries that will be sold by Tesla Energy both for home and commercial installations. These batteries will enable people to store power that is generated either from Solar Panels or during off-peak times and use it during the night, peak times or during power cuts, etc.
So how is this relevant to Mars? Just as on Earth Solar Power isn’t always available having the batteries for a colony will be critical. Even if a Methane based power plant was built having batteries would give coverage should there be a problem with the plant.
High Speed Transport (Hyperloop)
Elon introduced the Hyperloop concept in 2013 announcing it as the fifth mode of transport. Since them Hyperloop Technologies, Inc has been created and SpaceX themselves have announced a Hyperloop competition to test out designs.
So how is this relevant to Mars? While this may not be needed for an initial base on Mars as a colony starts to grow and spread out on the planet being able to quickly and efficient move people around in an air tight system would be needed.
It seems clear to us that Elon Musk has put a lot of work and thought into a future colony on Mars, all the technology listed above has uses both on Earth and also in the future on Mars.
There are plenty of other technologies that will be needed Habitats, Green houses, etc there are other people working on these pieces of the puzzle.