It is not everyday that you see a science paper published by the head of a leading private spaceflight company. Elon Musk has presented plans for human exploration to Mars in the journal New Science. The paper itself is a written form of the talk that Musk gave at the International Astronautical Congress (IAC) in Guadalajara, Mexico in September 2016. However, this is not a droll science paper, and Musk points out some funny things while chalking out the plans. Here are a few select gems:
10. On becoming a superhuman: "It would be quite fun to be on Mars because you would have gravity that is about 37 percent of that of Earth, so you would be able to lift heavy things and bound around."
09. On affordability of a ticket to Mars: "Right now, you cannot go to Mars for infinite money."
08. On the wastefulness of rockets: "A car, bicycle, horse, if they were single-use — almost no one would use them; it would be too expensive."
07. On the need for coming back to Earth: "It would be pretty absurd to try to build a city on Mars if your spaceships just stayed on Mars and did not go back to Earth. You would have a massive graveyard of ships; you have to do something with them."
06. On how very crowded a colonial transport ship could be: "The threshold for a self-sustaining city on Mars or a civilization would be a million people. If you can only go every 2 years and if you have 100 people per ship, that is 10,000 trips. Therefore, at least 100 people per trip is the right order of magnitude, and we may end up expanding the crew section and ultimately taking more like 200 or more people per flight in order to reduce the cost per person."
05. On why it will actually be fun: "The crew compartment or the occupant compartment is set up so that you can do zero-gravity games — you can float around. There will be movies, lecture halls, cabins, and a restaurant. It will be really fun to go. You are going to have a great time!"
04. On the history of SpaceX: "In 2002, SpaceX basically consisted of carpet and a mariachi band"
03. On NASA: "I am incredibly grateful to NASA for supporting SpaceX, despite the fact that our rocket crashed. I am NASA’s biggest fan"
02. On a surprise side project closer home: "We could transport cargo to anywhere on Earth in 45 minutes at the most. Hence, most places on Earth would be 20–25 minutes away. If we had a floating platform off the coast of New York, 20–30 miles out, you could go from New York to Tokyo in 25 minutes and across the Atlantic in 10 minutes. Most of your time would be spent getting to the ship."
01. On "Systems": "Generally, I do not like calling things 'systems,' as everything is a system, including your dog."
For those who want to experience the hilarity and the brilliance first hand, the paper can be found here.