The journey to Mars has been a long one and we’ve seen many upgrades. Throughout the years we have done many achievements regarding space. We landed on the moon in 1969, the first rover in 1970 and the list goes on. SpaceX basically controls space exploration now and they have focused everything on the Mars mission. “SpaceX has recently made a number of breakthroughs that I am just really fired up about,’ Musk said. He also said there was a 70% chance for him to live on Mars when we have the technology to get there. Can America afford the trips to Mars if the missions not a success?
When NASA launched space ships the cost was around $500 million to get sent to space. SpaceX’s rockets are significantly cheaper but are still a pretty penny at $60 million, a huge decrease. SpaceX has a budget of about $1 billion, $100 million of the funding coming from Elon Musk himself and $400-500 million from NASA. NASA’s budget was about $19 billion and sure the company got the first man to the moon, but SpaceX is on the way to bringing a man to Mars. (Brian D. 2018) SpaceX has a lot less of a budget and is doing almost more than what NASA did. Granted back in 1969 rockets were way more expensive than today with the Apollo project being around $25.4 billion. The rocket Elon sent “Starman” and his car into space costed around $62 million and has since past Mars.
The Apollo project started off in 1961 and ended in 1975 after successful trips to the moon. The missions were very successful as the missions brought back almost 900 pounds of moon rocks and the first man on the moon. The remaining question is can SpaceX be as successful with Mars when we start landing there. Eventually the day will come when we put a man on Mars but when? “In 15 years time when the Earth and Mars will once again be tantalizingly close, NASA intends to send a human to Mars. SpaceX has an even more ambitious target date of 2024.” (Zahaan B. 2018)
There are multiple conspiracy theories about Mars that people believe in but cannot be scientifically proven. Some believe that aliens already inhabited the planet and had it dried out of materials and left to rot leaving its rustic color. Others believe that there are aliens there right now and they are waiting for us to arrive. Of course, the only way for scientists to believe something is with evidence and without evidence your story could be talked down on. Getting proper evidence of what exactly is on mars and if the environment is safe to send a human there is exactly what the Mars Rovers are for.
The Mars Rovers are very slow but bring back very useful information about the red planet Mars. There are 17 cameras attached so we can see the terrain and judge whether or not Mars is suitable for life. There are all terrain treads made so driving over rocks will not be a problem. The rover almost weighs a ton which is most likely due to all the heavy equipment built in to it. The main reasons for the rovers are to judge the climate, geology, whether it could have ever supported life and to help plan a human mission to mars. (Chris 2012)
One of the most important things about anything that has to do with space is how the equipment gets up there. Rockets that send satellites and equipment for the space station to space use 500,000 gallons of super-cold liquid oxygen and liquid hydrogen, which are mixed and burned together to form the fuel. It costs about $450 million to launch a space shuttle with equipment which based on NASA’s budget seems to be too expensive. (Brian D. 2017) At most 42 shuttle launches is all that budget can manage if all of the missions are successful which is never the case. Of course NASA is continuously payed but that does not change the fact that the Falcon Heavy from SpaceX only costs $90 million per launch. With the Falcon rockets comes the boosters which are reusable so no money is needed to build new boosters. (Brad T. 2018)
SpaceX has made some considerable changes in the spacecrafts. “Falcon 9 is the first orbital class rocket capable of reflight.” (SpaceX) This meaning that the craft will launch to space and can come back and successfully land. The process saves money and time as NASA made rockets that burned up when coming back to Earth. SpaceX also built a satellite that sometimes get shot up to space which of course, sends information from where it is floating back to HQ.
The Falcon Heavy is the most powerful rocket in the world. “The first stage is composed of three Falcon 9 nine engine cores whose 27 Merlin engines together generate more than 5 million pounds of thrust…” (SpaceX) Being the most powerful rocket and using 3 of the boosters from the already amazing Falcon 9, the Heavy is the ideal rocket to send to Mars with humans. But even with the powerful rockets it would still take a minimum of 128 days to get to Mars in a cramped rocket with 2 other humans. The rocket is ideal to get to Mars just not with humans onboard the craft.
With all the talk about Mars how will the humans onboard the rocket be able to make the trip without starving? A minimum of 128 days floating in a rocket is absurd to bring someone to Mars. There would not be enough space to fit that much food and water onboard. SpaceX will have to make a faster rocket or have a bigger storage compartment as 128 days floating around in space without enough food will be a guaranteed failure.
Is the plan to go to Mars even a good idea? Exploring Mars is obviously a good thing but maybe moving there isn’t the best idea. Being in space for at least 128 days has bad effects on your body. Your bone mass wastes away and all the muscles you use to move your body parts also slowly waste away. “In addition, there will be persistent mechanical noise and vibration, sleep disturbances, unbearable tedium, trance states, depression, monotonous repetition of meals, clothing, routines, conversations and so on.” (Ed R. 2015) Crew members will slowly waste away and become depressed in the small personal space they have in the space craft. Without space for exercise machines like in the International Space Station even if they get to Mars and come back all that time in space without keeping your body in shape will kill you. The gravity of Earth is obviously much stronger than space’s which is why exercise is important.
- Brad T. (2018) Heres How Much It Costs For Elon Musk To Launch A SpaceX Rocket money.com http://money.com/money/5135565/elon-musk-falcon-heavy-rocket-launch-cost/ This source goes over the costs for the different technologies of SpaceX. It goes in detail and states costs for the Falcon 9 and the Falcon Heavy. The article also mentions how much Elon Musk puts into SpaceX from his own pocket.
- Chris (2012) Mars Curiosity Rover Facts spacefacts.com https://space-facts.com/mars-curiosity-facts/ This article goes over the specifics of the Mars Rover “Curiosity”. It bases the weight and the specific technology that is on the rover. The source explains how it is powered and how it takes pictures of the red planet Mars.
- Brian D. (2018) Budget Documents, Strategic Plans and Performance Reports NASA.gov https://www.nasa.gov/news/budget/index.html The article provides links to all of the budgets for this year. It gives fact sheets and budget estimates. In short it covers everything that has to do with the NASA budget requests, facts and previous budgets.
- Jonathan O’ (2012) What Is Rocket Fuel Made Of? Spaceanswers.com https://www.spaceanswers.com/space-exploration/what-is-rocket-fuel-made-of/ This is the article to go to when wondering what exactly is rocket fuel. It provides an explanation from a professional and goes in depth about the fuel. Another thing it talks about is solid rocket fuel and liquid rocket fuel.
- SpaceX Falcon 9 and Heavy spacex.com https://www.spacex.com/falcon9 SpaceX provides information from their own website about the Falcon 9 and Falcon Heavy. It breaks it down to the different stages and payload of the spacecraft. The Falcon 9 carries “Dragon” which carries cargo and will eventually hold humans.
- Ed R. (2015) Let’s Not Move To Mars NYTimes https://www.nytimes.com/2015/09/21/opinion/lets-not-move-to-mars.html All of the bad things about Mars and the reasons to not move there are all listed in this article from NYTimes. It talks about depression and repetition of food and how long they will be in space for without a good amount of (no pun intended) space.