Why is Elon Musk involved in wide range of technologies

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.

Summary

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.

 

Weekly Space Blog 9/21

Another amazing week in space…

Cygnus Successfully Launched
Antares_LaunchWith the exception of one issue with the fuel system that caused a slight delay in the launch time Orbital successfully launched there Antares Rocket with the Cygnus spacecraft.  The Cygnus is currently on route to the International Space Station and once a number of demonstration steps have been completed successfully is due to berth with the station tomorrow.

Once the vehicle has been unloaded the ISS crew will load items that are no longer needed, after about 30 days at the station it will unberth.  Unlike the Dragon spacecraft the Cygnus cannot return back to earth but instead burns up during re-entry.

Latest reports show the the spacecraft has successfully fired it’s main engine’s to alter it’s course to the station, a number of the tests are performed close to the station to verify that the approach and capture can be aborted if needed.  Once all the tests are passed NASA and Orbital will have a final go-no-go poll before the craft enters the keep out zone around the station so that it can be captured by the crew using the station arm.

SpaceX Static Fire Test Update
The first static fire test of the new Falcon 9 v1.1 showed up some anomalies, due to this SpaceX attempted another test this week which was successful.  However due to the delay’s caused by needing the second test launch of the new version has been delayed until 9/29 to accommodate ICBM tests at the launch site.

Atlas 5 launch successful
A secure communications satellite was launched from the cape this week by an Atlas 5 for the U.S. Air Force.  This was the first of two large launches on the same day on the U.S. East Coast, the second was the Orbital launch of Cygnus seven hours later.

Next Station Crew Soyuz Integrated
The Soyuz TMA-10M vehicle was integrated with it’s Launcher this week in preparations for the launch of Flight Engineer Michael Hopkins of NASA, Soyuz Commander Oleg Kotov and Flight Engineer Sergey Ryazanskiy, both with Russia’s Federal Space Agency on 9/26.  The next major milestone in this preparations will be roll out to the launch pad expected on Monday 9/23.

Deep Impact Update
Following a month of attempts to re-establish contact with the now silent spacecraft NASA to announced that the mission is over.  Engineer’s suspect that the vehicle lost stabilization control and was no longer pointing it’s Solar Array’s at the sun causing the battery’s to run out.  The vehicle was tremendous successful having completed all of it’s primary mission objects as well as returning approximately 500,000 images of different space objects.

Space Alien Claim
This week a scientist if Britain claimed to have evidence of Alien Life taken from sample obtained from the upper atmosphere.  The story got quite a lot of traction on some new media however was very quickly debunked.  The same scientist has made similar claims in the past and each time has proven to be wrong because there has never been scientific evidence to back up his claims.

Life on Mars Update
Hope’s of finding life on Mars faded a little this week when a study by the Mars Curiosity Rover detected only trace amounts of Methane in the atmosphere.  Of course if Mars One or other’s get there way this will change in the next couple of decades as human’s will visit the planet and bring with them microbes and other forms of life.

India Mars Mission spacecraft revealed
mangalyaan-mars-orbiter-isro-india-lgThe week India unveiled it’s first Mars Spacecraft expected to launch later in late October or early November.  The Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) announced that the vehicle will have five scientific instruments on-board designed to conduct various experiments while orbiting the planet.  The vehicle is expected to arrive at the planet in September 2014 following a 9 month cruise.

Boeing Tests CST-100 Thrusters
This week Boeing announced that it has completed a series of tests of the thrusters that will be used on the CST-100 Spacecraft when in orbit.  In combination with Aerojet Rocketdyne the thruster manufacturer the tests assessed how the thrusters performed in different scenarios as would be expected in space operations.  This is a significant step forward in the design of the spacecraft which is designed to talk crew into LEO.

Chinese Space Station final days
The Chinese Space Agency announced that their first Space Station Tiangong was entering it’s final month’s of operation before a fiery re-entry into earth’s atmosphere.  Tiangong hosted two different crews during it’s lifetime and brought the Chinese one step closer to having a permanent presence in space.

And Finally
While not related to Space I wanted to share the news from Elon Musk that Tesla are currently looking for Engineer’s to work on autonomous driving option for the Tesla Model S car.  According to Elon they plan to use 360 deg flush mounted camera’s and radar which will require lost of image processing capabilities.  Anyone interested should email autopilot@teslamotors.com, the team will report directly to Elon.