SpaceX's latest rocket ship, Falcon 9, is set to launch (and bring itself back to Earth) this week, but Elon Musk is already revealing new details about his rocket company's next mission: colonizing Mars.
"The Mars transport system will be a completely new architecture," Musk revealed on last night's Reddit AMA; the space entrepreneur is hoping to present it to the public toward the end of this year.
Musk also shared that the initial goal for the Mars Colonial Transport is to take 100 metric tons of useful payload to the surface of Mars. This transport ship would mark the first phase in an ambitious, years-long colonization initiative that Musk projects could relocate more than 80,000 people to Mars by 2040.
"Our space suit design is finally coming together and will also be unveiled later this year," according to the SpaceX founder. "We are putting a lot of effort into design esthetics, not just utility. It needs to both look like a 21st-century space suit and work well."
In the meantime, there is a more imminent mission in SpaceX's near future. The Falcon 9 could launch as soon as this Friday to bring supplies to the International Space Station, as part of SpaceX's $1.6 billion contract with NASA. Takeoff was originally set for December 16, but had to be postponed owing to technical difficulties with the launch pad. Another launch was aborted Tuesday.
Falcon 9 is set to connect with the space station. It will then commence the unprecedented undertaking of returning to Earth via self-stabilizers and gravity and land on a barge (or as Musk described it, an "autonomous spaceport drone ship") in the Atlantic Ocean.
"The center of gravity is pretty low for the booster, as all the engines and residual propellant is at the bottom," he said during his Reddit AMA. "We are going to weld steel shoes over the landing feet as a precautionary measure."
If the entire mission is successful, Musk revealed that he would celebrate with a "party at Cocoa Beach" in Florida.