Snapchat, Harry Potter & Mars missions: Elon Musk does Reddit AMA
Musk confirmed that while the company aspires to get man to Mars, it will not be a one-enterprise mission.
He was asked about the development of the ’Raptor’ family of rockets that’ll eventually form the backbone of SpaceX’s Interplanetary Transport System as well as the Big Falcon Rocket project.
“Some parts of Raptor will be printed, but most of it will be machined forgings. We developed a new metal alloy for the oxygen pump that has both high strength at high temperature and won't burn,” said Musk.
“The flight engine design is much lighter and tighter, and is extremely focused on reliability. The objective is to meet or exceed passenger airline levels of safety… That will be especially important for point to point journeys on Earth,” Musk wrote.
“The advantage of getting somewhere in 30 minutes by rocket instead of 15 hours by plane will be negatively affected if ‘but also, you might die’ is on the ticket.”
When pressed for further details of the Raptor rockets’ design, specifically whether they would incorporate heat exchangers, Musk deviated from his usual technical responses and dropped in a casual Harry Potter reference.
“We plan to use the Incendio spell from Harry Potter,” Musk joked. “But yes, and probably,” he added.
When asked about the effects of cosmic radiation on future astronauts and spacefaring colonists, Musk was nonchalant and cut straight to the point, while referencing a NASA hero in the process.
“Ambient radiation damage is not significant for our transit times. Just need a solar storm shelter, which is a small part of the ship. Buzz Aldrin is 87,” the tech pioneer responded.
Musk also discussed the difference between breaking free from Earth’s gravitational pull and that of Mars.
“Worth noting that BFS is capable of reaching orbit by itself with low payload, but having the BF Booster increases payload by more than an order of magnitude. Earth is the wrong planet for single stage to orbit. No problemo on Mars.”
The space tech pioneer also allayed fears that future colonists might lose their online presence back here on Earth.
“3 light-minutes at closest distance. So you could Snapchat, I suppose. If that’s a thing in the future,” Musk said.