SpaceX Is Looking At These 9 Spots On Mars To Land Its First Starship Rocket Missions

Elon Musk is very serious about populating Mars. The SpaceX CEO has made that quite clear ever since his aerospace company started working on a towering, two-stage rocket system called Starship that will one day, land people and cargo on Mars. The tech-mogul has been on and off about his plans to nuke Mars or recently, warm it up using solar reflectors.

Now, SpaceX is on a lookout for locations on the Red Planet where it could land its first Starship rocket missions. Apparently, Elon Musk has asked NASA to provide possible landing sites for the mid-2020 Mars missions. Collaborating with a NASA scientist, the rocket company has bluntly requested NASA for photos of at least, 9 landing sites for Starships. It is believed that Musk has been considering for relatively flat, warm and hazard-free landing sites for the upcoming fleet of Martian launch vehicles.

The revelation came to light when space-history writer Robert Zimmerman first posted about the images imported from the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter (MRO) on his website. In many of these photos, Zimmerman noticed that they have been labelled with words including, ‘Candidate Landing Site for SpaceX Starship.’

These new pictures come from HiRISE, a telescope handled by the University of Arizona atop the MRO. The telescope’s camera photographs surface features at a resolution as fine as one foot per pixel and then beams tens of millions of them to Earth. In the HiRISE catalogue, Zimmerman has highlighted four Starship landing sites for future missions.

Out of these nine possible landing sites, eight are located on the border of two major regions called Arcadia Planitia and Amazonis Planitia to the north and south respectively. These spots are likely to be replete of near-surface ice sources that could sublimate into the air, if it all, there’s a functional vacuum. The ultimate goal is to terraform Mars by trapping in carbon dioxide to make it habitable for future voyagers.

Elon Musk asks NASA to provide SpaceX with potential landing sites on Mars

SpaceX has requested NASA to provide it with potential landing sites on the Red Planet. SpaceX’s HiRise images indicate it is interested in the Arcadia region of Mars, which has both volcanoes and large open plains.

SpaceX is currently building two orbital prototypes and just completed a successful short jump of its Starhopper prototype as a test of its Raptor engine, reports CNET.

SpaceX is building the ‘Starship’ (formerly known as the BFR), a fully reusable vehicle designed to take humans and supplies to Mars.

In an interview with Axios, Musk said that that there is “70 per cent chance that he will go to Mars”, despite a ‘good chance’ of him not surviving either on the way or after landing.

Musk earlier floated the idea that making Mars warmer would be crucial for making it habitable for humans and one way of doing it would be launching thermonuclear weapons in order to create tiny ‘suns’ over the regions.

The idea is to convert any frozen carbon dioxide into gas, thereby engineering a greenhouse gas.

Musk then floated a new theory, without abandoning the nuking Mars idea. Might make sense to have thousands of solar reflector satellites to warm Mars vs artificial suns (tbd). Nuke Mars refers to a continuous stream of very low fallout nuclear fusion explosions above the atmosphere to create artificial suns. Much like our sun, this would not cause Mars to become radioactive.

Musk has already estimated the cost of having a self-sustaining civilization on the Red Planet which is ‘between $100 billion and $10 trillion’.

He arrived at the figure after estimating the approximate future cost of sending a minimum payload to Mars ‘to nearest order of magnitude’, at $100,000 per tonne. So if building a self-sustaining city on Mars requires a million tonnes of cargo, the cost would be around $100 billion, Musk calculated.

Companies such as SpaceX and scientific bodies around the world have been working towards inventing technologies to allow humans to venture beyond Earth’s moon but it could still take a decade or more before that is attempted.

Elon Musk drops bombshell over alien existence and how SpaceX is ‘better' than Area 51

ELON MUSK claimed his company SpaceX has a special branch that he believes is “better” than the legendary Area 51, adding that the US Government has definitely not made contact with other lifeforms.

The revelation came after Mr Musk was sharing his thoughts on interplanetary exploration at the World Artificial Intelligence conference in Shanghai. The tech mogul dismissed speculation about the US Government being in contact with aliens and covering up their existence from the public. He said: “There are people out there who think we have found aliens. Trust me, I would know: We have not.

“People ask me if I have been to Area 51. Ok, please. SpaceX actually has area 59 and it’s eight better than area 51.”

Mr Musk also spoke out about the importance of future exploratory missions to Mars, particularly if something were to happen to the Earth.

He said: “Not from the standpoint of Mars just being an escape hatch or because I think Earth is doomed, but because there is a certain irreducible probability that something may happen to Earth.

Despite our best intentions and everything we try to do, there is a probability of external forces or some internal unforced error causing civilization to be destroyed or sufficiently impaired such that it can no longer extend to another planet.

Mr Musk did not deny the existence of extraterrestrial life, however he claimed the fact we have not managed to see any aliens could indicate society is doomed for destruction.

Some scientists suggest humanity is unable to detect extraterrestrial civilisations due to intelligent beings inevitably killing themselves or dying out in natural disasters before becoming sophisticated enough to journey through space or send messages.

Mr Musk said: “I think we should not take it for granted that consciousness will continue because we have not encountered any aliens.

“I think the thing about Mars is that it’s important for us to take the set of actions that are most likely to continue consciousness into the future.”

The billionaire called on humanity to work on building technology that will allow us to colonise other planets.

He argued: “This is the first time in the 4.5 billion year history of Earth that it’s been possible to extend the life beyond earth.

“How long will this window be open?

“It would be wise to assume it is open for a short time, so let us secure the future such that the light of consciousness is not extinguished.”

Last week SpaceX moved one step closer to completing its aim to send humans to Mars after a successful test flight last week of its prototype rocket.

The “Starhopper” is a prototype for the upcoming Raptor engines which are designed for SpaceX's Starship, which Mr Musk hopes will carry the first humans to Mars.

After a number of false starts the rocket blasted 150 meters into the air above the Gulf coast last Tuesday.

The single-engine version of the SpaceX Starship was air bound for almost a minute.

It returned back to earth with a soft landing at the coastal site in Texas.

The rocket’s flight was live streamed by SpaceX and could be seen propelling itself eastwards onto an adjacent landing platform.

Mr Musk shared in the celebrations by tweeting his company’s success.

He said: “Congrats SpaceX team!!”

SpaceX’s first thrice-flown Cargo Dragon returns from orbit with Starship tiles intact

After a flawless reentry and splashdown on August 27th, SpaceX’s first thrice-flown Cargo Dragon spacecraft completed its latest mission, arriving in Port of Los Angeles aboard SpaceX vessel NRC Quest.

The successful completion of NASA Commercial Resupply Mission 18 (CRS-18) means that SpaceX is officially the first and only company to launch the same orbital spacecraft three times. Meanwhile, Cargo Dragon capsule C108 also happened to mark the first known orbital flight test of hardware that may be destined for use on SpaceX’s next-generation Starship launch vehicle, taking the shape of four ceramic tiles installed as part of its ablative PICA-X heat shield.

Cargo Dragon’s CRS-18 mission successfully lifted off on its way to the International Space Station (ISS) on July 25th and was berthed to the ISS roughly two days later, completed its delivery of several tons worth of cargo. During the launch webcast, one of the SpaceX hosts noted that black tiles visible on Cargo Dragon’s heat shield – distinct beside its silvery water-sealed PICA-X tiles – were prototypes of a ceramic heat shield material being analyzed for possible use on Starship.

CEO Elon Musk confirmed this after the first launch attempt was scrubbed by weather, stating that SpaceX was looking into the use of “thin [ceramic] tiles” to protect Starship’s windward (atmosphere-facing) half during orbital reentries. Prior to this development, Musk had proposed and posted videos of real-world tests of a steel Starship heat shield concept, in which extra energy could be wicked away by ‘transpiring’ liquid oxygen or methane through microscopic holes on each tile’s leading edge.

Although particular species of stainless steel do feature exceptionally high melting points and structural characteristics at ultra-high temperatures (> 1400C/2500F), some unofficial analyses of the numbers involved indicated that the density and weight of steel could rapidly hinder any benefits derived from its use as a heat shield. Musk appeared to confirm this in his July 24th comments, indicating that thin ceramic tiles on the windward side and nothing on the leeward side of Starship looked like the “lightest option”.

Indeed, ceramics were so prevalent on the Space Shuttle – the only semi-routinely reusable space plane ever developed – in large part because they can be made spectacularly light. The Shuttle’s main ceramic tiles had a density of 155 kg/m³ (9 lb/ft³), about five times denser than styrofoam or roughly the same density as freshly-fallen snow and balsa wood. Stainless steel is about 50 times denser, on average. To use Musk’s own 2017 turn-of-phrase, adding thick steel tiles to Starship’s already-steel skin was probably a bit too much like “building a box in a box”, whereas prioritizing ceramic tiles presumably cuts the shield’s mass by a factor of something like 20-100+.

Although the Shuttle did make extensive use of ceramic shielding, that shielding – specifically, reinforced carbon-carbon (RCC) tiles about as fragile as the material people are familiar with – and a mixture of organizational ineptitude infamously lead to the death 7 NASA astronauts and was generally a nightmare to deal with. SpaceX certainly won’t have to deal with the foam and solid rocket boosters that a lot of Shuttle’s ceramic problems can be traced to, but the company will likely be laser-focused on producing a form of ceramic shielding that isn’t nearly as fragile as Shuttle-derived materials.

The fact that Cargo Dragon’s ceramic Starship tile prototypes appear to be almost completely unscathed after their first orbital reentry is an excellent sign that SpaceX is making progress in the materials design and certification department, or is at least taking flight-testing extremely seriously.

SpaceX CEO Elon Musk is expected to provide an official update on Starship no earlier than late September, a presentation that will likely include details about the route the company is taking with the massive spaceship’s heat shielding.

Elon Musk isn’t happy with the size of his rocket and wants one twice as big

Like many men, Elon Musk has a pet name for his rocket and is worried it’s not big enough.

Now the billionaire has shared insecurities about the girth of his mighty vessel and vowed to do everything he can to make it larger.

We’re talking, of course, about the SpaceX Starship, could one day travel to Mars.

On Twitter, Elon gave the world a frank look at the booster section of his rocket, Starhopper, undergoing testing in Boca Chica, Texas.

He then begrudgingly admitted it was just 9 metres wide, but promised his next spaceship would be bigger.

‘Probably 18m for next-gen system,’ he vowed, before sharing details of upcoming testing milestones.

‘Aiming for 20km flight in Oct & orbit attempt shortly thereafter,’ he added.

‘Starship update will be on Sept 28th, the anniversary of SpaceX reaching orbit. Starship Mk 1 will be fully assembled by that time.’

Last week, Musk’s SpaceX has pulled off a successful test flight of the Starhopper Mars rocket prototype which saw it soar higher than ever before.

But the incredible feat of human ingenuity also caused disruption for people living nearby, with residents reporting disturbances to their day-to-day lives.

Slowly rose to a height of 152 metres above its launch pad in Brownsville, Texas, and propelled itself 198 metres eastward onto an adjacent landing platform, completing a successful low-altitude test of SpaceX’s next-generation Raptor engine.

Elon wants humanity to become an ‘interplanetary species’ and The Raptor engine is designed to power the early stages of his epic mission.

It ‘s a reusable two-stage booster taller than the Statue of Liberty and will be fitted to Starship – a space voyaging pioneer craft destined to touch down on Mars.

‘Congrats SpaceX team!’ Elon wrote.

‘One day Starship will land on the rusty sands of Mars.’

About eight hours later, he then realised it resembled ‘R2D2’s Dad’ and told the world about this revelation in a tweet.

The prototype ‘hopper’ vehicle resembles a chrome water tower with four landing legs and was originally due to take off on Monday.

But wiring issue with one of the Raptor engines halted the countdown less than a second before ignition, Musk.

Elon Musk described the mistake as ‘rather embarrassing’ in a conversation on Twitter.

About a dozen people living in the adjacent village of Boca Chica, just over a mile from the test site, had been urged in advance by local authorities to vacate their homes as a precaution at the sound of police sirens that blared minutes before launch.

‘It lmost looked like a cartoon or something,’ nearby resident Cheryl Stevens said just after Starhopper’ flight. ‘

After all the buildup, it was kind of nice to actually see it happen.’

The notices were circulated by sheriff’s deputies three days in advance and warned of a possible ‘overpressure event’ that could shatter windows and endanger anyone who did not evacuate their home.

Maria Pointer, another resident, set up cameras and invited photographers to her home. She said excitement surrounding the launch reminded her of ‘feeling like you’re going on a Ferris wheel.’

Other residents bemoaned SpaceX’s presence on the Texas coast and said they were frustrated with road closures and confusing public notices.

‘It’s kind of like a double-edged sword,’ said resident Terry Heaton, adding that access to the nearby beach was blocked off every time SpaceX attempted an engine test.

The next step for Raptor will be to carry out additional ground-based firings of the engine bolted to a stationary test stand, Musk said.

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