SpaceX to release the largest rocket in Human History
Disclaimer: Jesus, looked at the archive and I hardly post. So, let’s go again. I began the year doing Space work which was just beautiful. I felt ultra stupid and had no idea what I was doing. So, I made a document walking myself through the process. I’ll release snippets of this document week by week.
SpaceX has a dream whereby homo sapiens (from hereon referred to as humans) become multi-planetary by establishing an Interplanetary Transport System (ITS) that would allow for a permanent colony on Mars. But, of course, this is all in case of a catastrophic galactic event that may unfold on Earth. Great news for those of us living here!
By 2030, Elon Musk hopes to have relocated 1 million people to Mars under SpaceX’s Mission Mars or Mars program, hoping to make them self-sufficient far from Earth; this will be one of many future human outposts. Mars is colder than Earth, so cold humans couldn’t survive most times in its atmosphere. It gets sufficient sunlight from the Sun to sustain human life. With an atmosphere heavy in CO2, the gas compressed will allow plants and forests to grow. Only six months away via SpaceX’s Starship, its two moons will at least be interesting to see.
A realistic move away from the potential Interstella situation Christopher Nolan envisioned, let’s examine where we may live in our sprawling Solar System.
How do humans intend to live?
Unsustainable planets are commonplace in this new space rush. Humans would survive long-term by living in artificially created environments. Over time, competition should evolve in space habitat supply. We have no idea what a space city will look like as we haven’t made any yet. But we can consider orbiting models, starting with the O’Neill cylinder, a 23km by 5km cylinder. A quick google search of said structure shows, that it leaves much to be desired. While animated, it looks fun, but we have to consider building this structure on Earth and releasing it into orbit or constructing this cylinder while in orbit. Let’s not get into this.
Another problem is what people will live in once they reach these planets; this is mainly unanswered. No doubt, the genius of Elon Musk and other aerospace engineers will fill the gap. But still, at the very least, we see no excellent viable options yet that are feasible to attract citizens to give up life upon Earth. The planetary structure will need sufficient room, exercise facilities, and a way to process/sustain water, oxygen, waste, and food. In addition, a million people will need a way of preoccupying themselves.
Other orbital living structures such as the Bernal Sphere, Kalpana One Space Settlement, and International Space Stations (ISS) are not considered as we are thinking about planetary living. Living on the actual planet just in case you’re losing the process haha. It should be considered that humans may end up living in orbital residences, for some time, in great numbers. Especially if, in one of the worst-case scenarios, something went wrong with one of the planetary living structures.
On a space station, a human bedroom can be the size of a phone box. Each cabin is designed for one person, and astronauts sleep in a sleeping bag. This doesn’t sound like the luxury or even low-cost travel many earthlings are accustomed to. Foodwise, you can opt for the vegetables grown aboard or pre-packaged meals. No sandwiches.
This has yet deterred no one; private clientele has paid between $20-40 million for a personal round trip to and stays at an International Space Station. Orion Span was the first U.S. company to come out and say they were developing a luxury Space hotel. However, they have not yet gone into orbit. Focusing on pricing, the $20 million price tag was afforded to Dennis Tito, an American million, in 2001. In modern times, the price is much higher.
SpaceX’s travel sees a price increase to at least $55 million in 2022. You will travel with Elon Musk’s SpaceX ‘Dragon,’ basically the first private aircraft for sending people and cargo to Space for this ‘low’ price. You can choose to orbit the Earth, stay on an ISS, or (in the future) travel beyond. If you decide to stay in space, you will receive a three-day orbital tour. Jeff Benzos seemed to be reducing prices back to their 21st-century introduction allowing a bidder to explore Space with his company Blue Origin for $28 million. That said, one shouldn’t get too optimistic. Reports say the price will rise to $55 million in 2022. A quick check of Wikipedia (hehe) shows that 574 private individuals of their own accord (money) have reached a sub-orbital flight, 567 people reached Earth orbit, 24 traveled beyond Low Earth Orbit (LEO), and 12 have walked on the Moon. So with the right amount of money, it is undoubtedly possible.
The cheaper route would be to become an astronaut, and you would then be sent to space (through SpaceX) for six months at a time. Alternatively, you could explore whether any other agency is hiring. September 2021 saw the first private clients go into Space without a professional astronaut, thanks to SpaceX, so we shouldn’t expect to see much cross-over for astronauts into Space travel. Potentially, when it becomes cheap enough for kids or at liftoff.
For a lower budget clientele to access the market, innovation is necessary, but to what extent? Some travelers may be happy to sleep in a bedroom the size of a phonebox, but I presume most will not. Also, they may struggle in an environment with no recreational options. Thanks to Chinese innovation, the Voyager Station seems to out-complete Orion Span (who are now suddenly bankrupt) to become the first Space hotel. Many lessons can already be drawn from these minor space trivialities, or are they trivialities?
First, let’s consider Mars; according to NASA, a one-way trip would take about nine months. No one has been there, but many space missions have successfully landed rovers on the surface. Gravity is only 38% the level on Earth. And without a spacesuit, the human has a strong potential of freezing to death. Exposure to such an environment would lead to a quick and painful death in which you outgas and your skin and organs rupture. Then there is the radiation which is just as deadly to humans as the atmosphere itself. Say you did hypothetically survive, as most of these positions come from scientific research from those who have not been on the planets (though I believe they should be trusted). You would then die after a couple of weeks due to the global toxic dust.
On the Moon, comparatively, chemical particles found in the air can deposit in the lungs, causing respiratory disease. Much like the toxic dust found on Mars. Even within spacesuits, long-term exposure will reduce bone and muscle mass, which is one reason at least 2hours of exercise is recommended for astronauts a day. It is commonplace for astronauts to return to Earth with more muscle mass than they left. Finally, like Mars, there is the issue of radiation. The cosmic rays, commonplace across the Moon due to its lack of an atmospheric barrier, damage the human heart and potentially alter the complete cardiovascular system.
You face an entirely different problem when considering Jupiter, the gas giant. Living on the surface would be difficult but not all in all impossible (very impossible). The climate is much hotter than Earth; some estimates place the figure hotter than the Sun. The gas at some points is hot enough to melt metal that is solid on Earth. This alone seems to suggest that Jupiter will not be conducive to the life found on Earth. When Jupiter keeps coming up in discussions (all the goddamn time) on Space exploration, it is more about little research conducted on the planet; you can’t technically land on a world made of gas. You wouldn’t even fall through; you would probably decimate at a point as you descend.
Close by, is Jupiter’s fourth-largest Moon blasted by its radiation, hello hello Europa. There is H20 on this planet, but Jupiter’s radiation is so intense it is typically split into oxygen and hydrogen. In October 2024, the first human expedition to Europa is planned, where more will become known about this Moon.
Other places where human outposts are considered include; floating cities on Venus. Venus was born simultaneously with Earth but is not considered extremely promising. It does have similar pressure and atmosphere to Earth and has been subject to human exploration. The Soviet Union landed several probes on Venus, and they would operate for a small amount of time before the equipment began to melt or implode in the heat. The most extended amount of time any equipment survived, was 110minutes. As one of the hottest planets in the Solar System, the gases have created a greenhouse effect where the planet is shrouded in smog.
One of Saturn’s moons, Titan, has been positioned as hospitable to human life. Other than the fact there is no oxygen on the planet, the temperature comes in at -170degrees Celsius. It has methane lakes (no water) in which life could exist. Now, methane is no joke to humans. A tiny piece of methane displaces all oxygen within the body leading to suffocation. A small tablespoon of liquid methane could potentially thaw your lungs. If you stood on the planet, you would not need a spacesuit, just protection from the cold (whatever that may be, this is more than double the coldest place on Earth) and a breathing mask. There is also the problem of light; the planet would be completely dark.
Potentially in the future, icy terrains could become liveable. Living on Pluto, for example, has not been ruled out as scientists believe we may have the technology in the future that would make living in such terrains doable. However, Mercury’s extreme weather fluctuations currently make it unideal, and Uranus, an ice gas giant, is not only filled with flammable gases but has no oxygen.
Much, much further afield, in another solar system, the Goldilocks system. Again, you get a planet that is very similar to Earth. Proxima Centauri B. Orbiting a star at the same distance as Earth is the Sun; it is considered earthling’s most hospitable planet. The only issue is the planet is light-years away. With current technology, we would die before we arrived.
By Shaneka Knight
I hope that was an enjoyable read and you’ve learned something. The document goes on and on. Will fingers crossed post the next section Making Earthling Multi-planetary Beings next week or at some point. And Kudos to leye because my holiday was space space space. Oh and Yatchs.