No one will ever say that Elon Musk lacks ambition.
The billionaire entrepreneur has founded multiple successful companies like Tesla and Solar City, both in the name of making humanity more sustainable on Earth.
But perhaps his most ambitious project yet involves another planet entirely.
It’s no secret that Musk wants to use his private spaceflight company to take us to Mars. He even detailed his vision of the plan in a big presentation last year, explaining that he wants the trip to have a cruise ship kind of vibe.
However, some details of that red planet mission (or missions) are still somewhat fuzzy.
That lack of clarity will hopefully change this week when Musk again updates the public on SpaceX’s plans for interplanetary exploration.
Musk will take the stage at the International Astronautical Congress (IAC) in Australia on Friday to explain more about SpaceX’s plans to stretch humanity’s reach into the solar system.
SpaceX is keeping mum on what exactly Musk will speak about, but there are some clues out there about what we can expect from the speech.
According to a brief description of the talk, Musk “will provide an update to his technical presentation from IAC 2016 regarding the long-term technical challenges that need to be solved to support the creation of a permanent, self-sustaining human presence on Mars.”
So it looks like Musk will get down into the nitty gritty of what SpaceX will do in the coming decades to develop the technology needed to safely transport humans to and from Mars.
In his 2016 speech, Musk explained that the company will need to partner with governments and other organizations in order to make these Mars dreams a reality. So who knows. Maybe Musk will also have some news for us on that front.
Musk also said in a tweet that he’ll have some surprise applications for the interplanetary system, which he’s already said could bring us even deeper into the solar system than Mars.
That said, SpaceX has already reportedly scrapped some of its plans for Mars. The company was originally going to send a robotic payload to the red planet in 2020, however, Musk suggested earlier in the summer that SpaceX is no longer working toward that goal.
Instead, the company won’t aim for Mars until it has a larger payload to send there, but details on that mission are still unclear.
The company is also reportedly closer than ever to sending the Falcon Heavy — a larger rocket that can launch heavy payloads to space — on its first trip to orbit. This will mark an important step for SpaceX, which needs to bridge its current Falcon 9 program with more ambitious plans in the future.
The IAC is generally a news-making kind of meeting.
Australia already announced that the federal government is planning to create its own space agency, and Lockheed Martin is planning to announce new details about its own Mars base plans.