Elon’s talk can be seen here [
Update: The SpaceX video of the talk: VIDEO
Notes on the event:
Prior to the talk: Elon Musk on Twitter: “12m rocket booster diameter, 17m spaceship diameter, 122 m stack height” For comparison, the Saturn V rocket was 10.1 m in diameter and 110.6 m high The video says the booster produces 28,730,000 lbf at liftoff. The Saturn V first stage produced 7,891,200 lbf at liftoff. From various Tweets, it appeared things were a bit chaotic with a huge crowd waiting and the doors to the auditorium not opening till 2:30 pm. E.g. Nadia Drake on Twitter: “The floor is literally shaking as people run (sprint) in to grab seats for Elon Musk’s talk at #IAC2016.” Elon Musk on Twitter: “Waiting for everyone to reach their seats and get settled. Starting in 5 to 10.” 2:54 pm ET: Still waiting for the presentation to start. Begins talk at around 3:05 pm ET Talks first about the high cost preventing those who want to go to Mars from going. Aims to reduce costs to where a significant percentage of those who want to go can go. Goal is $200k for ticket price. Need to reduce costs by 5 million per cent. Sounds impossible but thinks its possible. Need Full reusability Refilling in orbit Make propellant on Mars Choice of propellant Reusability is the hardest Although Mars access is every 2.5 years, can use booster and tanker for other applications in between. Refilling in orbit is beneficial in several ways – e.g. smaller vehicles, shorter development time, etc. Mars propellant production enables return of ships back to earth for reuse. Key factor in lowering costs. Can make methane fuel – specifically “deep cryo methalox” Wins over hydrogen Shows the video. Says afterwards that it is not just an artist’s impression but is very close to their technical design. The tanker actually goes up several times to fill the spaceship with propellants. A fleet of ships will be prepared in orbit and leave en masse at the Mars alignment time. Over a long period could reach a fleet of 1000 ships. Minimum number people is 100 per ship. May raise that up to 200. Use carbon fiber structure Believe carbon fiber technology has reached a stage where metal liner isn’t needed. Only use oxygen and methane for all propulsion systems Will be the most efficient rocket ever built in terms of getting mass to orbit. Began working on the most important components. Raptor engine will have highest combustion chamber pressure. Feed very cold propellants to raise combustion density. Improve performance more than 10% Mars booster similar in many ways to F9 booster. 42 engines on base. FH will have 27 Redundancy such that if an engine fails, can still accomplish mission. 7% of takeoff weight goes to propellants needed for the return and landing. Booster only needed for the earth’s heavy gravity well. F9 landings are getting increasingly precise. Believe with some additional thrusters, can land right back on launch platform. Describes the transport ship. Oxygen tanks difficult since they also serve as aerodynamic surfaces. Payload of 300 tons to Mars. Average time is 115 days. Eventually could lower that to 30 days with higher performance propulsion. Goal is to make the ship environment enjoyable, not cramped and uncomfortable $140k per ton to Mars. – sufficient for a person and Eventually lower it to $100k
Talks about funding. Expect to make money from current apps such as ISS cargo/crew, launching satellites, etc. Know of people who want to fund a Mars settlement. Expect it will become a public-private partnership. Will go as far as possible with internal funding. Expect support to snowball Accumulating personal assets to fund this as much as possible. When starting in 2002, wasn’t clear they could even get a rocket to orbit. Rockets won’t improve unless a concerted effort is made to improve it. Things can go backwards. Reviews the accomplishments of SpaceX since 2002. Shows rough timeline for future plans. Hope to fly a prototype transport ship in four years. Suborbital first. Might reach orbit but couldn’t return. Will look into feasibility of long distance fast cargo delivery. Booster development looks relatively straight forward. Scale-up of F9 Could have a Mars transport ready in 10 years if everything went well. Plan to do a Mars Dragon mission for every 2.5 year window. Welcomes offers of payloads to host on Red Dragon missions. Dragon can land on any hard surface in the solar system due to its propulsive landing system. Shows Raptor engine tests. Raptor involves very tricky, difficult technology. Thought it would probably blow up on first firing test but it went well. Despite 3 times the performance, the Raptor is not physically much bigger than Merlin because it has 3 times the chamber pressure. So can use much of the same production equipment and assembly line setup as for the Merlin. Carbon fiber structures that are large and strong are quite hard to make. Shows picture of a huge carbon fiber tank that they have built and begun testing. Talks about going beyond Mars. Need propellant depots Mars, asteroid belt, etc. Full access to the entire solar system.
Pad 39A mods? Some changes. Would scatter component construction to Assembly at Cape. Mars waterless toilet system? Water actually plentiful on Mars. Energy is the big challenge. Who will be first people to go? First pioneers will be taking high risks. Not a Apollo mission. About spreading humans A grand adventure. A very inspiring goal. Life support systems: Radiation raises risks but not a huge issue. Need shielding for a solar storm/flare. Once on Mars the mass of the planet and the atmosphere greatly reduce rad. Artificial magnetic field can help. SpaceX’s goal is to provide the transport systems. Expects others to step up and develop the infrastructure to live and flourish on Mars. What about hiring people outside the US? US govt treats rockets as munitions. Does not agree with the policy. Would love to have talented people from around the world. But legally cannot. Tesla, OTOH, has about a quarter of the workforce from immigrants. One way only? Just having the option of returning will greatly expand the number of people who will be interested in going. The spaceship is coming back so people can jump on or not. How to attract more interest in Mars? Need to make the trip affordable. Can go any where on earth within 24 hours or so. Space is different. Still an adventure. Health requirements: Trying to make it possible for most anyone to go. Resources going into it right now? Under 5% of the company devoted to the Mars system right now. Amount of money is relatively small. After Crew Dragon, Falcon Heavy and reuse of F9 first stage going well, will be able to put more resources on the interplanetary program. Could be up to $200M-$300M per year in a few years. Expect program to achieve first mission would cost a total of $10B Plan to go yourself? Will go but want to make sure that if something happens to him, there is a succession plan that will keep the focus on Mars. Doesn’t want some investors to take over and turn the company away from Mars. Interstellar travel thoughts? Expect that an antimatter type drive will be needed. Once there is a base on Mars, there will be a powerful forcing function to make propulsion and space technology better and better every year. Doesn’t expect a big jump right to an interstellar transport. It will be a step by step process. Cycler option? Their analysis shows that going directly is best, at least initially. Put a cycler in the category of future optimizations. Naming? Naming is hard. First ship to Mars will be called “Heart of Gold” from Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy. Launching of people and propellants: Still looking at that. Best case, launch people and then do multiple propellant loadings over a few weeks. Option is to launch the ship empty, do fueling, and then send the people. Should other Mars programs be canceled? No. good to have multiple organizations building interplanetary spacecraft with different designs. More the better. Chose the IAC as a way to reach the world community and encourage them to compete or collaborate.