Elon Musk wears many hats. He’s the mind behind PayPal, the online payment portal and Tesla, the company that makes cool electric cars. He does have another company that is perhaps his most ambitious endeavour. That would be his space transportation company, SpaceX.
SpaceX has many goals. One of them is definitely to send people to Mars. There are comparatively smaller goals they have in mind, however, that may improve the lives of people on Earth, though.
Going Beyond The Local Maximum
Take the Starlink project, for example. The idea with Starlink is to create a network of 30,000 satellites out in space that will deliver high-speed internet all over the world. This will be especially helpful to connect areas where the terrain is difficult and laying cables is a challenge for the local governments. 300 of these 30,000 satellites are already up there.
He does want to go beyond what he describes as the “local maximum” around Earth’s orbit. “I think we need to be very careful of getting stuck keeping a local maximum,” he said at the 2020 Satellite conference held in Washington. The local maximum would be the Low Earth orbit, 300 to 1200 miles above the Earth’s surface. The International Space Station is present within this range itself.
The Challenge Of Colonising Mars
His aspirations lie beyond this range, however. Mars is much, much, further away. He doesn’t like humanity’s chances of actually getting to space in his lifetime, though. “If we don’t improve the pace of our progress, I’m definitely going to be dead before we go,” he remarked.
Part of the reason for his remarks is SpaceX’s current limitations. The Falcon 9 rocket is the first step towards solving those limitations, thanks to its reusability. Still, its range doesn’t go beyond the local maximum he feels the need to go beyond. It also can’t carry the load of supplies that would be required to carry a manned crew to colonise Mars.
Some Scope For Optimism
There is a silver lining, however. The Starship vehicle, which is the spaceship that would make the journey to Mars once a powerful enough rocket helps it out of Earth’s atmosphere, is all set to go to the moon from 2022 onwards. That’s still two years away. Maybe there’s a breakthrough innovation right around the corner that will speed up Musk’s mission to colonise Mars.