This Week's Herman Trend Alert

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  The Herman Trend Alert

January 30, 2019

To Mars and Beyond

Many of us have dreamed of traveling into space or even to Mars. Elon Musk CEO of SpaceX wants to support the settlement of Mars, and he believes he can begin sending people there as early as 2024.

First things first.
This year, SpaceX will hold its first "hop tests" for its Mars-bound Starship. The purpose is to test if the rocket can jump a few hundred kilometers. Since before July 2018 SpaceX has been creating a test facility in Boca Chica, Texas. To develop this facility, they shipped over 300,000 cubic yards of locally-sourced soil, took shipment of the equivalent of 20 tanker trucks of liquid nitrogen, and completed a 600-kilowatt solar array. Last October, the company took shipment of the final major ground tank system to support the initial flights. Musk previously described these tests as "fly out, turn around, accelerate back real hard and come in hot to test the heat shield." He wants to have "a highly reusable heat shield that's capable of absorbing the heat from interplanetary entry velocities."

The next stage happens in 2020
As the United States holds its next presidential election, SpaceX will be working on the next stage of Starship tests. That year, the tests will focus on the booster, as well as high altitude, high-velocity flights. The team is expected to conduct a number of test flights before actually placing a human on board.

SpaceX's Mars Plan 2022
In September 2017, at the International Astronautical Congress in Adelaide, Australia, Musk suggested 2022 as the year that at least two unmanned ships reach Mars. The ships would deliver infrastructure for power, mining, and life support for future flights. Each ship would carry around 100 tons of supplies, and in addition, they would confirm water resources and identify hazards.

Testing the Starship
In 2023, using its Starship, SpaceX expects to send Japanese billionaire Yukazu Maezawa, along with six to eight artists, on a trip around the moon. Though the mission is not Mars-focused, its success would be a stepping stone for a future longer manned mission to Mars.

Mars Plan: 2024
SpaceX's plan in 2024 is to send two cargo ships with two crew ships. The mission for the first Earth-Martians is to establish a propellant production plant, combining Martian water, ice, and carbon dioxide to create methane and liquid oxygen to fuel the ships and return home. The humans will need to collect over 2000 lbs. of ice every day to fuel the plant. The first Earth-Martians will have to work very hard.

A Mars Colony by 2025?
The year 2025 is the earliest point at which Musk believes a Mars colony could take shape---predicting a timeframe of seven to ten years for the first bases to take shape. These bases will expand on the previous work of the first Earth-Martians. The project's principal Mars development engineer for SpaceX, Paul Wooster, believes the SpaceX colony could soon grow into a larger base starting with a village or a town and growing into a city, then multiple cities.

Beyond Mars
SpaceX expects to have some sort of settlement on Mars by 2029. Musk avows there's a 70 percent chance he will visit Mars himself in his lifetime, perhaps visiting his developing colony---of course depending on how the project evolves. Musk believes that, "Ultimately, it will be very safe to go to Mars, and it will be very comfortable." Moreover, Musk sees Mars as a possible base for more ambitious missions, using the Starship as "an interplanetary transport systemÉ capable of getting from Earth to anywhere in the solar system [once] you establish propellant depots along the way."

A safety net for humanity
Besides "transforming humanity into a space-faring civilization," the project could also preserve the species. "If something were to happen on Earth, you need humans living somewhere else. . . I think you need multiple paths to survival, and this is one of them," said SpaceX president Gwynne Shotwell.

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