The world in 2022: Mars goal for Elon Musk

Elon Musk, the ambitious founder of SpaceX, has always been clear about the purpose of his company. Humans are currently a species that occupies only one planet. Musk would like to change this state of affairs by setting up a permanent base on Mars. Ideally he would like to be part of its inhabitants. “I would like to die on Mars, he likes to joke, but not at the moment of impact.”

Progress has been steady and dramatic. SpaceX’s partially reusable Falcon rockets have lowered launch costs, a critical step for the company’s Mars ambitions. SpaceX’s latest launch vehicle, the Starship, is scheduled to make its first orbital flight in January or February 2022. If it manages to lift off, it will become the most powerful launch vehicle since the Saturn V rocket that took astronauts from the Apollo capsule to the Moon fifty years ago. The launcher and its booster will both be reusable, further reducing the cost of the operation. The Starship was designed explicitly with flights to Mars in mind.

Sources of revenue

So far SpaceX has financed itself by carrying out launches for NASA – it transports astronauts and the shuttle to the international space station. It also finances itself by placing satellites in orbit on behalf of radio and television groups and telecommunications operators. But going to Mars will be expensive. To find the money to pay for these expeditions, SpaceX entered the field of terrestrial telecommunications. The firm plans to populate the sky with at least 10,000 satellites in low orbit, or about four times the number of those currently active and in orbit around the planet. Starlink – that’s the name of this new service – completed its beta phase trial at the end of October 2021.

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