Elon Musk has one good company — SpaceX. The company has proven that it can provide reliable and economical space launch for most modern uses of space, from satellite launches to space station resupply. But Musk is introducing new goals for his space rockets to fulfill, that can change the trajectory of the human race forever — and make Musk himself a multi-trillionaire many times over.
SpaceX Mission to Mars
SpaceX is still on track to start launching humans to Mars in the mid-2020s. That time frame likely has something to do with the fact that the next suitable launch windows, based on the positions of Earth and Mars, will occur in 2024 and 2026.
SpaceX wants to build a million-person city on Mars. It will take decades to build such a city and to transport a million people there to live and work. But the plans for such a venture are being made in all seriousness by a space entrepreneur who has already proven his ability to do what others could not do.
It all starts with the first manned Starship mission to Mars, expected sometime after 2023. This past week, it emerged that SpaceX is evaluating a number of spots to land these first Starships.
The astronauts’ initial goal would be to set up a propellant depot, which could harvest resources on Mars and create liquid oxygen and methane. This would be used to refuel the Starship and power its Raptor engines, which don’t need rocket propellant unlike those used on SpaceX’s current Falcon 9 rocket.
Once that’s set up, the astronauts could either return home or move out further, establishing a planet-hopping network with refueling stations along the way. This is a dream of founder Elon Musk, who has described his vision of humanity as a multi-planetary species. Musk has described the potential for a million-strong city on Mars, while Neil deGrasse Tyson has noted how planet-hopping could reduce resource scarcity and the need to go to war.
SpaceX’s Mars ambitions have sparked both caution at how it could physically alter humans, and excitement about how it could transform humanity.
SpaceX Mission to Earth
If the SpaceX Starship can be made to be safe enough for routine public transport, the company could provide regular 30 minute flights between cities on different continents — for a reasonable price of $1000 to $2000 per passenger per flight.
If SpaceX can reach improved safety then they would be able to replace almost all flights with over 8 hours of flying time for coach, business, first-class, and private jets.
100 million passengers per year would be about $100 billion per year of revenue.
1 billion passengers per year would be about $1 trillion per year of revenue.
SpaceX will be able to start with one hour package or urgent deliveries anywhere in the world. Instead of overnight delivery, it will be one-hour deliveries. __ https://www.nextbigfuture.com/2019/09/age-of-steel-spaceliners.html
Note the optimistic earnings projection of up to $1 trillion per year in a high passenger flow scenario.
Another profitable “mission to Earth” for SpaceX is the upcoming “Starlink” fleet of 12,000 internet satellites slated to provide global high-speed internet to everywhere on Earth — with low latency. Such an internet provider could earn into the $trillions yearly, depending upon the business model.
SpaceX Mission to Luna
The US space agency NASA has plans to return to the moon. Since NASA’s own space launch system is behind schedule and well above budget, the agency has begun to discuss plans of using SpaceX Starship rockets to provide its launch and transport to and from Luna.
SpaceX has also talked about flying paying customers to lunar orbit and back, without landing, as one-off joyride experiences. In addition, SpaceX will likely continue to provide launch assistance to others who have aspirations to land on the moon.
If SpaceX succeeds in planting successful human cities on Mars, the company is not likely to stop there. Most of the planetary mass in the solar system is in the outer system, in the domain of the gas giants and their rich moons. The first human enterprise to master the harvesting of resources from the outer system planets and their moons, will be in position to build truly self-sustaining extraterrestrial human outposts for the long term.
Elon Musk’s main competition to populate outer space with large numbers of humans, is Jeff Bezos of Amazon fame. Bezos’ space company is called Blue Origin, and it is spending close to $1 billion per year in the effort to catch up to SpaceX and eventually surpass it, if possible.
Blue’s vision is a future where millions of people are living and working in space. In order to preserve Earth, our home, for our grandchildren’s grandchildren, we must go to space to tap its unlimited resources and energy. If we can lower the cost of access to space with reusable launch vehicles, we can all enable this dynamic future for humanity. __ https://www.blueorigin.com/
Blue Origin has ongoing plans to enter the $trillion market for global internet provision using LEO satellites in a large fleet — in direct competition with SpaceX’s Starlink fleet.
It is likely that the two companies will be in direct competition on many projects into the space future.
China in Space
The Communist Party of China has launched an ambitious program of space development in order to dominate the high frontier — for both civilian and military use. Judging by China’s actions on Earth, China is likely to claim ownership of anything it can lay its hands on — regardless of prior claim.
As the proverbial “bull in the China shop,” the communist party government of China is likely to make things much more interesting than might be preferred. China seems to want total dominance of space, with no other viable players in the solar system. The idea of private corporations in space — and large numbers of people living and working in space free of CCP domination — would clearly be anathema to China’s current government.
Islam in Space
For anyone who remembers the many Muslim terrorist bombings over the past several decades, the thought of an Islamic presence in space may not be comforting. The space environment is hazardous enough as it is, without introducing the element of fanatical religion into the mix. It is not clear whether China or Islam would be the larger threat to an extended society of free spacers, but each would earn a wary eye from most independent and productive space dwellers.
Expanding the Space Horizon
Within the inner solar system, resources for human enterprise can be found on Luna, on Mars, and in asteroids. If these resources prove to be affordably exploitable, humans can leapfrog to the outer system — where resources are more plentiful. Exploiting the resources of the outer system will require an element of “self-sufficiency” and independence from Earth which may not be attained for several decades.
Jeff Bezos envisions a trillion people living in the solar system — made possible by extraterrestrial resources.
His [Bezos’] solution? Move off the planet and into space colonies — enormous ones, and lots of them.
“These are very large structures, miles on end, and they hold a million people or more each,” he explained. He envisions millions of such colonies housing trillions of people, sustained by continuous sunshine and the vast resources available on the moon, asteroids and other parts of the solar system. __ Source
Coming from anyone else, it sounds like moonshine. But from the wealthiest man on Earth who is spending $1 billion a year to make it possible, it just sounds a bit loonie. Nevertheless, if your plan can be logically formulated step by step, with each step solidly supporting the next, you are justified in proceeding until you run out of money — or until your plan becomes tangibly harmful to others.
We certainly need a different class of person to live in space — more intelligent, more resourceful, and more emotionally stable. But it is probably best if others besides Musk and Bezos get to work learning how to grow a type of person more likely to build an abundant and expansive space future for the long term.
Right now, the average IQ for the human race on Earth is about 90 — when scores are standardised to a UK mean of 100. Space populations with average IQs of 90 will not survive in such an unforgiving environment. But populations with an average IQ of 140 might provide the wide variety of skills needed to fly from the nest.
For now, although we are limited to baby steps we can still plan better technologies and experiment with them. If we can succeed in the current climate of relative freedom, we may be able to ride past the inevitable waves of tyranny that will attempt to stymie our longer term aspirations.
Hope for the best. Prepare for the worst. It is never too late to have a Dangerous Childhood © .
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I don’t understand how Eloi Muscovite can become a trillionaire; he can’t sell all those things that are basic human rights.
Broadband internet and rapid inter-continental travel are not generally thought of as “basic human rights.” But these days you never know what will fall under that banner.
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