Sign up if you’re over 18 and “prepared to die.”
On September 27th, Elon Musk disclosed his much-anticipated plan for an “Interplanetary Transport System” that will, Musk hopes, take humans to Mars. A video posted by his company, SpaceX, introduces us to the BFR and BFS—aka a big fucking rocket and a really big fucking spaceship. When the rocket and spaceship attach, they will measure 122 meters tall.
The plan goes like this: The spaceship will launch into orbit with a lot of help from a rocket booster — think of it like a parent giving a push to a child on a bike. Only instead of a parent, it’s a rocket with more power than NASA’s Saturn V. And instead of a toddler on a trike, it’s a spaceship large enough to hold 100 passengers and 450 tons of cargo.
Once the spaceship reaches orbit, the rocket booster will separate from it and return to Earth, where it will be loaded with a propellant tanker. The booster then takes off again to rendezvous with the spaceship and refuel it while it’s still in orbit. In order for the ship to reach Mars, the propellant tanker will make this trip three to five times.
SpaceX estimates that the trip to Mars will take anywhere between 80 and 150 days, although the hope is that advances in technology will someday shave it down to 30. But while you’re on the ship, Musk intends for you to have a good time. This spaceship comes equipped with some clutch features, including movies, games and a restaurant. Because the only thing worse than being a server on Earth is being a server in zero gravity.
Charts from SpaceX’s proposal indicate Musk is ready to get moving on this: His estimates suggest ship testing might begin as early as 2018, with booster testing starting in mid 2019, orbital testing in 2020 and the first flights to Mars launching in 2022.
Musk’s plan clearly details how humans will get to Mars, but he doesn’t appear to have given much thought to what they’ll do once they arrive. His plan currently lacks proposals for providing housing and food; nor does he offer ways to mitigate potential health issues like those caused by solar radiation, which is electromagnetic energy emitted by the sun that can potentially increase your risk of cancer.
But there’s great news! If getting shot into space only to land on a planet that is still completely uninhabitable sounds like fun, you’re probably qualified. According to Musk, the ideal candidates for this pilgrimage are people over the age of 18 who are also “prepared to die.” All you need is a few days of training and around $200,000 to cover the cost of the flight and you’ll be on your way. And if you change your mind, no hard feelings. There will be return flights available.
Lance Bass, I’m begging you: Do not sign up for this. You’re too important to lose.