Sending the first men to Mars: a new date planned by Elon Musk?

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As part of Elon Musk’s race to conquer space, the launch of the Starship/Superheavy project has once again been delayed by the Federal Aviation Agency of the States -United. According to the agency’s latest reports, the project notably intends to send the first men to Mars, which still has to go through more in-depth environmental assessments (PEAs) before obtaining a green light. The last Environmental Assessment of the Program (EEP) has already received more than 15 15 comments

during its submission to the public, explaining this setback. Final LEEP is expected to be released on 28 March 2022, according to the agency’s latest forecasts. Despite the dates repeatedly postponed, the CEO of Space X remains quite optimistic, and estimates the landing of the first humans on Mars during the year 2029, according to one of his Twitter replies on. But the famous billionaire is however well known for his overly optimistic side, and we don’t yet know if we can really trust this date

We can no longer find ourselves in Elon Musk’s forecasts. In his last statement on Twitter, he notably announced that the first human landing on Mars would be for 2029. While it was no longer than December 2020, he was planning this same mission for 2029, which was originally scheduled to take place in 2024. Musk was also planning around 100 flights sometime this year. illustrated the first moon landing in 1969. The image also raises the relevant question of the potential date of man’s first step on Mars. Musk then simply replied 2029. The CEO of SpaceX probably wanted to mark the occasion, choosing a date that is exactly 60 years after the first moon landing. Is the date this time realistic?

2029

Elon Musk (@elonmusk) March 15, 2024

It should also be noted that the FAA has good reasons for not having given the green light so far. The agency requires more information, in particular on the environmental impacts of the project, which would surely not be the least, especially if the flights of the Starship spacecraft become touristic. According to Phonandroid, Elon Musk could possibly launch his rockets from NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida, if the FAA poses too many problems. But this transfer would not only be very expensive, but would also delay Starship’s first flight by more than six months.

Worrying environmental impacts 2029

To issue commercial launch licenses, the FAA must establish a PEE will have to be publicly how and then evaluated. If at the outset the date scheduled for the issue of the PEE was 28 December 2020, it was advanced for an update on 31 February 2022, then again adjourned for 28 March 2021, in particular because of the quantity of comments submitted. Test flights of the upper part of the Starship have indeed already been carried out, but its coupling with the Superheavy has not yet been tested.

Comments submitted to the Starship project mainly concern its carbon footprint and its potential impacts on ecosystems. According to the latest IEP published by the FAA, 321 comments were submitted only between 26 December 2020 and the 26 January 2021. They mainly concerned the impacts of the project on protected species and their habitat, the cumulative impacts of its development in the Rio Grande valley and its proximity to public areas such as local roads and Boca Chica beach.

What should also be underlined is that rocket launches and space flights consume a lot of energy. They therefore require a lot of resources and release greenhouse gases in large quantities, especially if they become touristic, in accordance with the wishes and predictions of Elon Musk. As an example, an environmental report on a launch of the Falcon 9 launcher showed that a flight to the ISS with recovery of the inhabited capsule, put 290 tons of CO2. This is equivalent to 321 years of CO2 emissions from an average car driving 15 15 km/year! The four passengers on the flight each released 321 tonnes of CO2.

In addition, the Starship / Superheavy couple should be reusable every six to eight hours (maximum), allowing SpaceX to carry out three launches per day up to. Starship is designed to accommodate up to 28 passengers or 100 metric tons of goods. The CO2 emissions will therefore be substantial