Mankind’s journey out into the black has been goaded on by many great thinkers: some, storytellers who craft amazing and fantastical worlds of science-fiction that we yearn to attain, while others are visionary scientists who challenge us with ambitious plans of how that might be achieved (while some, like Robert Heinlein, dabble in both). I’d like to change tack today and look at the latter category.
Over twenty years ago, Robert Zubrin wrote The Case for Mars, the book that inspired me as a young man (and many others, I’m sure) to grow up to study and become an engineer. It’s remained a bestseller in publication ever since, undergoing new revisions/editions every few years or so as new scientific discoveries about the red planet are revealed. More rarely, he’d add a note or two about some development in space policy or the industry that he felt worthy of note. Then, a few years ago, the “SpaceX revolution” broke onto the scene, with the advent of dramatically reduced launch prices and reusable vehicles, and it begged the question of whether Zubrin would revisit his thesis in light of these developments. The Case for Space, published in 2019, is his answer. But does it measure up to the pivotal, groundbreaking volume that started it all for so many of us?
Ni hao, fellow Browncoats! Jeff here, rocket-scientist-in-residence here at Take Back the Sky. A few days ago, Elon Musk participated in an AMA interview on the popular website Reddit prior to the most recent launch attempt of CRS-5. For those of you unfamiliar with the online forum, “AMA” stands for “ask me anything.” It’s like Meet the Press, if it were before an audience of half-starved reavers. The key takeaway, though, was his letting slip that his company intends to announce the full details of just how they intend to beat NASA to colonizing Mars later this year.
Musk has been teasing the Martian Colonial Transport, or MCT, for several years now, but up ’til now has been vague about the details. Is it a rocket? A third incarnation of the Dragon spacecraft, ruggedized for the trip to the Red Planet? Finally, the tech mogul stated online that “The Mars transport system will be a completely new architecture” (Emphasis mine).
If you’ve been tuned in with us up to this point throughout World Space Week, you may wish that there were some way for you to be a part of it — after all, the true spirit of the Browncoats is standing up and taking action for causes that no one else will.
Those of you who have heard the occasional news bite about SpaceX’s efforts may have heard Elon Musk openly state that the Dragon’s true purpose for which it was designed all along has been to eventually travel to the planet Mars. You may be looking at the capsule spacecraft and find that the word that comes to your mind is “dinky.” Just how can a ship no larger than the Apollo capsule that took three men in very cramped quarters take that same crew all the way to the red planet without them coming down with the worst case of cabin fever in history? Continue Reading