Elon Musk’s proposed spaceship could send 100 people to Mars in 80 days
The trip will work like this: First, the spaceship will launch out of Pad 39A, which is under development right now at the Kennedy Space Center at Cape Canaveral, Florida. At liftoff, the booster will have 127,800 kilonewtons of thrust, or 28,730,000 pounds of thrust. Then, the spaceship and booster separate.
The spaceship heads to orbit, while the booster heads back to Earth, coming back within about 20 minutes. Back on Earth, the booster lands on a launch mount and a propellant tanker is loaded onto the booster. The entire unit — now filled with fuel — lifts off again. It joins with the spaceship, which is then refueled in orbit. The propellant tankers will go up anywhere from three to five times to fill the tanks of the spaceship.
The spaceship finally departs for Mars. To make the trip more attractive for its crew members, Musk promises that it’ll be “really fun” with zero-G games, movies, cabins, games, a restaurant.
Similarly, it’s inefficient to bring propellant for the return trip. Ideally, a team would build a propellant plant on Mars and send the ships back that way. (This is supposedly possible given the natural resources on the Red Planet.)