Musk reveals that the suborbital flight test of the Super Heavy Starship will take place in January and talks about the plans for the first missions on Mars and how we will get there
The founder, CEO and chief engineer of SpaceX Elon Musk spoke yesterday with the Council for Space Studies of the National Academy of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine of the United States and revealed the most immediate plans of his company. Among them, that the ship that will take us to Mars and the Moon, its Super Heavy Starship, will be ready for January or February of next year.
Elon Musk, with his son sitting on his lap, yesterday presented SpaceX’s short-term plans to members of the Council for Space Studies . This is a summary of some of the most interesting issues left by that video call that you can see in the video below.
The ship that will take us to Mars ready for January
According to Musk, the progress in the development of his Starship, the ship that if all goes well will take us back to the Moon and make us step on Mars for the first time, is being very fast. SpaceX hopes to get the flight test license from the US Federal Aviation Administration later this year and this means that the company could do the first orbital travel tests in January or February 2022.
Musk admits that the tests may not be a success at first, but he’s confident they’ll get it ready sometime next year. “We want to do 12 pitches next year, maybe more. We will try to complete the flight test program next year, which means that we will be ready to carry real loads in 2023. So very soon, ”says Musk.
As revealed by Musk, SpaceX is building a factory to “make many Starships and many engines” in parallel, although its development is being a challenge. “Assembling the production system for the Starship is more complicated than designing the Starship itself,” says Musk.
Even though the Super Heavy Starship is the largest rocket ever created, the biggest hurdle right now, he admits, is building the engines. The ‘booster’ currently has 29 engines and they plan to add four more and reach 33. The Raptor 2 will be the engine that carries the new Starship and, as Musk himself said on Twitter this Wednesday, it is capable of generate about 5.4 tons of thrust at takeoff and carry loads greater than 100 tons into space.
12 million pounds of thrust at liftoff pic.twitter.com/4ArkgU4Vff
— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) November 17, 2021
Become a multiplanetary species
The goal of this spacecraft, and the raison d’être of SpaceX according to Musk, is to become a multiplanetary species, to preserve human life from future extinction events, and to find answers in space to fundamental questions of life such as where we came from and What is the meaning of life.
Musk is convinced that at some point something will happen that endangers our civilization and ends our existence on Earth. The only way we can survive as a species, he says, is to live on other planets.
For Musk, these extinction events can be: the nuclear apocalypse, artificial intelligence, a pandemic much more deadly than the current one, religious fundamentalism that could endanger the advancement of science or the decline in the birth rate, which he says it is a risk that many overlook.
“If you multiply the number of recent births by life expectancy, the numbers are very, very bad for the world’s population,” says Musk. “There will be a lot of older people, fewer middle-aged people and only a few young people. And this leads us to the fact that the resources will be applied to taking care of the elderly instead of advancing science or civilization ”.
It also claims that leaving our planet will help us advance scientifically and answer fundamental questions about ourselves. “Having laboratories on the Moon or Mars will make us learn a lot. Having people there who study the history of the planet will make us learn a lot and if that is extended to other planets we will learn much more. That this? Are we living in a simulation? Going to other planets will make those doing the simulations have to work harder, ”he commented jokingly.
In addition, he hopes that in the future we will be able to send robot probes beyond our solar system that will expand our knowledge of the cosmos. And maybe discover that way if we are alone in the galaxy or accompanied, which would say Total Sinister.
Warning about artificial intelligence
“Artificial intelligence is much more dangerous than people think,” says Musk. “If we see the advancement of artificial intelligence, it is clear that it will exceed human intelligence in all respects. The list of things that humans can do better than an AI shrinks with each passing day. Hopefully this AI is associated with human will, but it may not be ”.
Musk argues that to keep pace with artificial intelligence we have to catch up with machines and be able to communicate with them at the same speed. That is what he is trying with his other company, Neuralink.
“We are already cyborgs, in the sense that our phones and our computers are extensions of our body,” he says. “Somehow we have already merged with our computers, the problem we have is that our way of communicating with them with our thumbs is very slow. As the intelligence of these machines grows, if that communication nexus continues to be so small, we will end up disconnected from computers. If we can solve the problem of the communication speed of the operating systems we will be able to have a symbiosis with the machines that is much better ”.
I’m a science journalist and host of Cosmic Controversy (brucedorminey.podbean.com) as well as author of “Distant Wanderers: the Search for Planets Beyond the Solar System.” I primarily cover aerospace and astronomy. I’m a former Hong Kong bureau chief for Aviation Week & Space Technology magazine and former Paris-based technology correspondent for the Financial Times newspaper who has reported from six continents. A 1998 winner in the Royal Aeronautical Society’s Aerospace Journalist of the Year Awards (AJOYA), I’ve interviewed Nobel Prize winners and written about everything from potato blight to dark energy. Previously, I was a film and arts correspondent in New York and Europe, primarily for newspaper outlets like the International Herald Tribune, the Boston Globe and Canada’s Globe & Mail. Recently, I’ve contributed to Scientific American.com, Nature News, Physics World, and Yale Environment 360.com. I’m a current contributor to Astronomy and Sky & Telescope and a correspondent for Renewable Energy World. Twitter @bdorminey