After this week’s series of extensive layoffs at Tesla Motors and continued delays facing the release of the company’s Model 3 electric car, spectators have been left wondering about the future projects and goals of founder and CEO Elon Musk. With a hand in projects ranging from public transport to interstellar space travel and exploration, the vocal entrepreneur recently revealed his future plans on news aggregate and discussion website Reddit’s /r/space community in an “ask me anything (AMA) dialogue with users.
The crux of Musk’s Reddit discussion focused on the development of his Interplanetary Transport System (ITC), which began as Mars Colonial Transporter. The project refers to a broad range of technological solutions meant to facilitate regular missions between Earth and Mars, with reusable rocket systems at the center of it all. Financing has always been a primary limiting factor in interplanetary missions, especially hypothetical manned exploration, and Musk’s SpaceX, first founded in 2002, has worked steadily towards advancing space travel in the private sector to find economical solutions, rather than relying upon government projects and technology. During the Reddit AMA, the Tesla and SpaceX founder explained recent developments in the ITC project, with many users focusing on physical changes to the project’s shuttles.
The online discussion went into many technical aspects, including whether or not the latest shuttle used a modular design, questions about how the craft’s heat shield functioned, and even about how the project plans to handle and protect against radiation exposure for its astronauts during manned journeys. Musk answered each question in surprisingly in-depth technical detail, with particularly complex answers to queries regarding his craft’s engine.
Aside from discussing technical specifications and changes to SpaceX’s vehicle prototypes and test modules over the past few years, the question and answer session also covered the company’s future prospects when in comes to colonizing Mars once it had developed a reliable transportation model between there and Earth. He compared the project to the development of the transcontinental railroad system and said that much of the early focus would be spent on finding ways to collect propellant materials from Mars to facilitate journeys back to Earth, along with setting up other basic infrastructure. Interestingly, Musk, spoke about the necessity of companies other than SpaceX joining in to make a Martian colony a reality, stating it would take a whole group of companies and “millions of people” to make the planet truly habitable in the long term.