Speaking at the 22nd Mars Society Convention at the University of Southern California, which finished on Sunday, Paul Wooster, the principal Mars development engineer at SpaceX, confirmed that the company has plans for building cities on both the Moon and on Mars on almost equal timescales.
Key to the success of their plans is the versatile and reusable design of the SpaceX Starship, Wooster said, that will allow the company to deliver very large payloads to the Moon, set up and operate lunar bases and do the same at Mars around the same time.
First on the agenda is a trip around the Moon for space tourist Yusaku Maezawa. The Japanese billionaire is signed up for an out-of-this world excursion courtesy of SpaceX in 2023. After the trip, the company intends to make a number of trips, both crewed and uncrewed, to the Red Planet in order to set up bases. Their first Martian city is expected to be completed by 2050.
In true SpaceX style, the companies ambitions do not stop there however. The company plans to build propellant depots on Mars and utilise in situ resources in order to provide basic life support systems. With these in place, said Wooster, SpaceX’s eventual goal is to establish a planet-hopping network so that other-worldly cities can be used as hubs for scientific research, or for projects by third parties.
SpaceX is working hard on preparing its Starship prototype to take its next step – a 20-kilometre test jump that could be conducted before the summer of next year.
If Wooster´s statements pan out as suggested then SpaceX could make Mars home to vast swathes of people long before NASA gets the chance to do something similar.
But there is still a long way to go before then and development and testing on Starship must proceed without excessive delays before SpaceX can realise their dream of cultivating cultures on other planets.