SpaceX founder — Elon Musk will reveal new proposed uses and improvements for the planned Interplanetary Transport System, along with other updates, at the International Astronautical Congress (IAC) in Adelaide, Australia. At last year's IAC in Guadalajara, Mexico, Musk for the first time unveiled his company's detailed plans to send settlers to Mars. Hints from Musk himself suggest that he will delve into new, "unexpected applications" for the Interplanetary Transport System at this year's IAC, as well as associated "major improvements" and other significant developments.
Musk founded SpaceX fifteen years ago with the goal of making space transportation more affordable and of eventually going on to colonize Mars. Since then, the company has achieved a number of related private-sector firsts, as by beating out other privately held businesses in the races to launch and recover a spacecraft, to dock with the International Space Station, and to land and reuse a rocket that had previously reached orbit.
At the 67th International Astronautical Congress in Mexico last year, Musk revealed the detailed architecture of SpaceX's plans to start settling Mars beginning in 2022. Aiming to "build a self-sustaining city," in Musk's words, SpaceX will help humanity "become a truly multiplanetary species" at a time when publicly funded space exploration programs are operating on longer timescales. Although the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) is officially committed to "sending humans to the Red Planet in the 2030s," for example, questions remain as to whether political will and other factors will allow for that goal to be achieved.
Elon Musk's presentation at this year's IAC will therefore be of great interest to many all over the world. The proposed SpaceX Interplanetary Transport System was originally described as a large rocket capable of carrying up to 100 Mars-bound colonists. Since then, Musk has suggested that a significantly scaled-down interplanetary vehicle could make more financial and scientific sense.
Reports have also suggested that Musk will try to partner with NASA or other public space exploration agencies in order to raise revenues for SpaceX and defray some of the considerable costs of sending colonists to Mars. One possible option could be to have an early version of the Interplanetary Transport System support a NASA mission to the moon or other activities. Musk's 2017 IAC talk will be streamed live starting at 2 p.m. Adelaide time on Friday.
As the leader in the field of privately funded space exploration and transportation technology, SpaceX aims to ultimately enable human beings to colonize other planets.
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