SpaceX's Elon Musk Unveils Interplanetary Spaceship to Colonize Mars
The ITS rocket will be more or less a scaled-up version of the first stage of SpaceX's Falcon 9 booster, Musk said. But the 254-foot-tall (77.5 meters) ITS booster will feature 42 Raptor engines, whereas the Falcon 9 is powered by nine Merlins. When combined with its crewed spaceship, the ITS will stand a full 400 feet (122 m) high, Musk wrote on Twitter. That would make it the largest spaceflight system ever built, taller even than NASA's legendary Saturn V moon rocket.
The spaceship will lift off with little if any fuel on board, to maximize the payload — people, cargo or a combination of both — that the craft is able to carry to orbit. An ITS booster will therefore launch again, topped with a tanker, and rendezvous with the orbiting spaceship to fill its tank.
Then, when the timing is right — Earth and Mars align favorably for interplanetary missions just once every 26 months — the spaceship portion of the ITS will turn its engines on and blast from Earth orbit toward the Red Planet.
The spaceship will be capable of transporting at least 100 and perhaps as many as 200 people, Musk said. It will also likely feature movie theaters, lecture halls and a restaurant, giving the Red Planet pioneers a far different experience than that enjoyed by NASA's Apollo astronauts, who were crammed into a tiny capsule on their way to the moon.
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