Elon Musk, the tech entrepreneur, has pledged to send people to Mars by 2024. Was his purpose, however, foreseen over 70 years ago?
Wernher von Braun, a rocket scientist, and engineer wrote “Mars Project: A Technical Tale.” Von Braun began his career as a Nazi rocket scientist, working for Nazi Germany’s rocket development program at the time.
Following WWII, the US recruited Von Braun and over 1,600 other German engineers and scientists to work for a clandestine espionage operation known as “Operation Paperclip.”
After relocating to the United States, Von Braun got involved in an endeavor to develop tales that communicated complicated scientific principles to laypeople using a variety of media, including books, TV guest appearances, and toys. His book “The Mars Project” was intended to be a description of a Mars expedition.
Speaking about destiny, did you know that Von Braun's 1953 book "Mars Project," referenced a person named Elon that would bring humans to Mars? Pretty nuts pic.twitter.com/m28yFU4Ip6
— Toby Li (@tobyliiiiiiiiii) December 30, 2020
Toby Li was just slightly off: in Von Braun’s book, the top commander on Mars is referred to as the ‘Elon,’ not that his name is Elon. Another user, Pranay Pathole, used an English version of the book to illustrate the differences:
“Yes, that is true. This is the same book’s English translation… But “Elon,” as mentioned in the book by Von Braun, is not the name of a person, but rather the title of a post, such as an elected meritocratic president.”
Elon Musk has set his sights on an expedition to Mars
Last month, Elon Musk announced that his company, SpaceX, intends to send humans to Mars within the next ten years. Musk was interviewed on an edition of the Lex Fridman Podcast, where he discussed his company’s plans to colonize Mars in detail.
When Fridman queried Musk about the project’s schedule, the world’s wealthiest man said, “Best case is roughly five years, worst case is ten years.”
“Engineering the vehicle,” Musk stated, emphasizing that “Starship is the most difficult and advanced rocket that has ever been manufactured.” The SpaceX Starship is the company’s most recent rocket model.
“The core optimization of Starship is lowering the cost per tonne to orbit — and eventually cost per tonne to orbit and ultimately cost per tonne to Mars’ surface,” Musk said on the show.
“No amount of money can buy you a ticket to Mars,” Musk said, emphasizing how unique the journey is in comparison to all else humanity has achieved in space previously.
Elon Musk: ‘I’ll be surprised if we’re not landing on Mars within five years’
Elon Musk has announced a new timeframe for his massive Mars project, and it is far closer than you would believe.
In an article published Monday, Musk said of SpaceX carrying humanity to Mars, “I will be astonished if we do not arrive on Mars within five years.”
Musk, the 50-year-old SpaceX founder and CEO who was named Time’s Person of the Year, has big plans for Mars, including a self-sustaining city with solar-powered hydroponic farms where humans can live permanently 34 million miles away.
“Building a self-sustaining community on Mars and bringing the animals and species of Earth there is the next really big thing,” Musk told Time. “It reminds me of a futuristic Noah’s ark.” But we will bring more than two – it would be strange if there are just two.”
Space policy specialist and Arizona State University professor Greg Autry told Business Insider in February that Musk is unlikely to reach Mars before 2029, with or without NASA’s assistance.
Other space specialists believe that long-term human habitation on Mars is unlikely. Some astronauts would “probably perish” on route to Mars, Musk told the charity XPrize in April.
Musk, who is presently the world’s richest person, according to Forbes, with a net worth of $247 billion, has a history of setting unrealistic timeframes for moonshot tech advancements.
Musk said in 2016 that Tesla’s fully self-driving vehicles will be ready in two years. He predicted one million Tesla “Robotaxis” by 2020 in 2019. Musk’s Boring Company, which was created in 2017 with the goal of building high-speed commuter tunnels in major cities, seems to have canceled a project in Chicago and postponed another in Washington, D.C., and Baltimore.
During a conference call last year, Musk said, “Punctuality is not my strong point.”
SpaceX, which was reportedly valued at $100 billion, is a prominent participant in today’s space race, having been won an exclusive NASA contract in April to land American astronauts back on the moon for the first time since 1972.
Musk, on the other hand, told Time that he is not attempting to make money on Mars. Rather, he remarked, it is about what “excites” him, such as the broader objective of “making life multi-planetary and enabling mankind to become a spacefaring civilization.”
Since its inception in 2002, SpaceX has pushed the boundaries of aerospace engineering, becoming the first firm to reuse a rocket for a NASA mission in 2017. It was the first private company to transport astronauts to and from the International Space Station when it launched in May.
It has not been easy getting there. Musk almost went bankrupt in 2008 following a string of botched rocket flights at SpaceX. Musk issued a letter to SpaceX staff last month warning that the company might face “real danger of bankruptcy” again, but told Time on Monday that the letter was largely a motivating tool.
He said, “We cannot lose our edge or get complacent.” There are other issues with SpaceX as well.
Former SpaceX engineer Ashley Kosak submitted an op-ed in Lioness on Tuesday, claiming that she was sexually harassed throughout her four years at the business. She said that “misogyny is pervasive” at SpaceX, and that Musk “treats engineers like a resource to be mined rather than a team to lead.”
According to The Verge, at least five additional former SpaceX workers came out about sexual harassment at the firm later Tuesday.
A number of long-serving SpaceX workers, including two vice presidents and a senior director, departed the firm last month after receiving a purchase offer connected to their stock vesting schedules, according to CNBC.
A spokeswoman for SpaceX did not immediately respond to a request for comment from CNBC Make It.