Elon Musk recently laid out his plan to get humanity’s collective ass to Mars. That’s pretty much been his focus, at least in his public appearances, ever since, but Musk is hardly just a pretty face. A new Reddit AMA has him dig into the fussy technical details of building a reusable rocket that won’t kill anybody sitting on top of it to go to a brutally inhospitable planet, also without killing anyone.
The big problem, Musk has revealed, is creating stuff that won’t burn when exposed to pure, red hot oxygen, which we’ll remind you is ridiculously corrosive stuff in its pure form. Musk also revealed a major test coming up in the next few weeks:
The flight tank…was built with latest and greatest carbon fiber prepreg. In theory, it should hold cryogenic propellant without leaking and without a sealing linker. Early tests are promising. Will take it up to 2/3 of burst pressure on an ocean barge in the coming weeks.
Most interesting is that Musk idly revealed that the ship design, at least in theory, could be used to travel to Mars at any time, not just the period every 26 months Mars and Earth are closest, thanks to its amount of thrust. It would just have to be much lighter. That’s particularly intriguing because it might offer simple passenger flights to the Red Planet, making tourism, however expensive, a possibility. So once we’re on Mars, things might move much faster than anyone expects.