Elon Musk may be able to unveil SpaceX’s highly anticipated Mars Colonial Transporter — which will ferry large numbers of people to the Red Planet — as early as this year, he said in a Reddit AMA on January 5.
The design and redesign of the Falcon rocket system, and the Dragon cargo and crew capsules, are all in an effort to reach Musks ultimate goal of starting a Martian colony, of thousands, if not hundreds of thousands of people.
And, perhaps it takes a multi-billionaire who decided to create their own functional space program to make it seem plausible, but Musk is quite specific as to his ultimate goal: “The ultimate objective is to make humanity a multiplanet species. Thirty years from now, there’ll be a base on the moon and on Mars, and people will be going back and forth on SpaceX rockets.”
A payload of 220,500 pounds is significantly more than the 5,200-pound payload that SpaceX’s Dragon spacecraft is scheduled to transport to the International Space Station this Friday. An average Space Shuttle payload weighed 53,000 pounds.
The heaviest payload ever launched weighed 260,000 pounds and was aboard the world’s tallest, heaviest, and most powerful rocket called the Saturn V, which carried the Apollo missions. However, this rocket only had to travel as far as low-Earth orbit, which is between 100 to 1000 miles above Earth’s surface, before detaching from the capsule containing Apollo astronauts. A SpaceX reusable rocket will have to make it all the way to Mars.
Last year, SpaceX began development on the first of what will eventually be nine newly-designed rocket engines that could eventually power SpaceX’s MCT.