Rocket to Mars – level 3

03-10-2016 07:00

Tech billionaire Elon Musk outlined his plan to colonise Mars at Mexico’s International Astronautical Congress. He explained that SpaceX is developing a rocket and capsule to transport large numbers of people and cargo to Mars.

Although he envisions humans living in a large colony there, he added that one key issue would be getting the cost down low enough to attract willing volunteers. The very first flights would be fairly expensive, but the architecture allows for a cost per ticket of less than 200,000 dollars and maybe as little as 100,000 dollars.

SpaceX plans to fly to Mars about every 26 months when Earth and Mars are favourably aligned for flight. Musk said that he would like to land people on the planet as early as 2024. NASA’s first manned mission to Mars is expected about a decade later.

Musk said that it would be a challenge to fund the project with the rocket development costs alone estimated at 10 billion dollars over the next few years.

The nearly airless planet is typically around 225 million kilometres from Earth and landing the first humans there after a six-to-nine-month journey is an extremely ambitious goal. Musk admits that there would be no guarantee of survival for anyone signing up for the adventure.

Difficult words: capsule (a space to hold people or things), architecture (the planning), envision (imagine), ambitious (difficult to achieve).

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