In the year 2024, SpaceX aims to send the first humans to Mars, 55 years after man first set foot on the moon. While the Apollo missions only involve short stays on the moon, SpaceX aims to make Mars a permanent home for humans for the first group of astronauts heading to Mars and the journey is expected to take around five months
The initial structures and systems that astronauts will set up in order to begin colonizing Mars before the first astronauts ever set foot on the surface of Mars, they will need to have the essentials like water and power already set up before they get there. SpaceX plans to achieve this in 2022, by sending two BFRS on unscrewed missions, carrying important equipment, such as a large array of solar panels and the mining system. This mining system will be the basis of SpaceX’s automated propellant plant, which they aim to expand with every new mission that heads to Mars. This propellant plant will process large supplies of CO2 and water found on Mars by using the process to make oxygen and methane, which will then be liquified and used this fuel to return the astronauts back to earth.
If this mission is successful in setting up the foundations for a Mars colony SpaceX will send the first humans to Mars in 2024. This mission will consist of two cargo ships and two cruise ships carrying around six to eight astronauts. Each the astronauts could be staying on Mars anywhere between a few months or a couple of years, while they continue to set up the propellant plant.
One of the most important things the astronauts will have to do when they arrive is set up a base. It’s unclear what the first Martian base will look like. Although many have suggested that it should have a similar design to the International Space Station with compact pressurized modules, allowing room for expansion. Others had suggested that the initial base on Mars should be built underground to protect the astronauts from the intense radiation and extreme weather experienced on Mars. It’s possible that Elon Musk’s boring company could be used to dig tunnels and create underground habitats for astronauts to live on Mars.
Then there is the question of how astronauts will get their food. The first astronauts on Mars will take a two-year supply of vacuum-sealed packets of food, which are light and compact. Just like the ones used on the ISS. The astronauts won’t be relying on Mars-grown food. However, it’s likely that they will bring a greenhouse on their first mission to experiment with growing food and possibly supplement their food with freshly grown produce.
In order to navigate the surface of Mars, the astronauts will also need a vehicle that can deal with the roughest of terrains. NASA has been developing the space exploration vehicle for this exact purpose. This is a pressurized vehicle that can support up to four astronauts for 72 hours with multiple SUV’s on the surface of Mars, it would allow astronauts to travel more than 125 miles in any direction, a major leap forward from the maximum six-mile range that the lunar Rover had on the moon.