Elon Musk is announcing big plans for Mars today. The founder and CEO of SpaceX is scheduled to give a talk today at 2:30 PM EST entitled "Making Humans a Multiplanetary Species" from a big astronomy event, the 67th International Astronautical Congress, in Guadalajara, Mexico. You can watch it live above and here.
"Musk will discuss the long-term technical challenges that need to be solved to support the creation of a permanent, self-sustaining human presence on Mars," according to the IAC press release. "The technical presentation will focus on potential architectures for colonizing the Red Planet that industry, government, and the scientific communic can collaborate on in the years ahead."
Musk has long harbored plans to colonize Mars. In 2014, he told Aeon magazine he hoped there would be a million people on Mars within a century. Earlier this year, SpaceX tweeted its plan to send one of its uncrewed Dragon capsules to the Red Planet "as early as 2018."
But today, Musk is supposed to share more specific details about how he'll execute his decades-old dream. He's said before that he thinks colonizing Mars will eventually be vital to human survival: "I think there is a strong humanitarian argument for making life multiplanetary in order to safeguard the existence of humanity in the event that something catastrophic were to happen," Musk told Aeon.
But underlying Musk's dreams of astro-grandeur, are some very basic logistics that still need to be worked out. To jumpstart the Martian colony, we need equipment to boost a massive rocket, as well as a giant spaceship that can carry the masses of people and cargo to Mars. Once called the "Mars Colonial Transporter" (MCT), Musk recently announced on Twitter that he'd renamed these two vehicles the "Interplanetary Transport System," which he believes can go "well beyond Mars."
Basically, SpaceX is planning to build the BFR—Big Falcon Rocket or Big Fucking Rocket, as it was referred to in a Reddit AMA with Musk—to get us to Mars. The BFR will be able to hold more cargo than ever before, including whole houses and more.
And once we're on Mars, Musk needs to answer questions about the human politics we'll inevitably bring with us, property disputes, crime, radiation exposure, resources and more—all questions he plans to have answered by the mid-2020s. That's when the ITS plans to take 100 people, or 310 metric tons, to Mars.
NASA is partnering with Musk on SpaceX's upcoming 2018 mission to Mars, but won't add any funding. Instead, NASA would get valuable data about Mars, as a NASA official said during a press conference last week.