Will 2016 Be the Year Elon Musk Reveals his Mars Colonial Transporter Plans?

One of a few "fan-based" Mars Colonization Transport (MCT) design concepts. Likely to be built in LEO, MCT will not require aerodynamics except for perhaps an aerobraking shell. The design may be dominated by massive spherical fuel tanks and inflatable modules house 100 Mars colonists. (Credit: Reddit user P3rkoz)

There are several space stories we’re anticipating for 2016 but one story might appear — to some — to belong in the realm of science fiction: sometime in the coming year Elon Musk will likely reveal his plans for colonizing Mars.Early in 2015, Musk hinted that he would be publicly disclosing his strategies for the Mars Colonial Transport system sometime in late 2015, but then later said the announcement would come in 2016.“The Mars transport system will be a completely new architecture,” Musk said during a Reddit AMA in January 2015, replying to a question about the development of MCT. “[I] am hoping to present that towards the end of this year. Good thing we didn’t do it sooner, as we have learned a huge amount from Falcon and Dragon.”

Big Rockets

As far as any details, Musk only said that he wants to be able to send 100 colonists to Mars at a time, and the “goal is 100 metric tons of useful payload to the surface of Mars. This obviously requires a very big spaceship and booster system.”He has supposedly dubbed the rocket the BFR (for Big F’n Rocket) and the spaceship similarly as BFS.And he wants it to be reusable, which Musk and SpaceX have said is the key to making human life multiplanetary. The recent successful return and vertical landing of the Falcon 9’s first stage makes that closer to reality than ever.While SpaceX has no publicly shared concept illustrations as of yet, a few enthusiasts on the web have shared their visions of MCT, such as the lead image in the article by Reddit user P3rkoz, and the drawing below by engineer John Gardi, who recently proposed his ideas for the MCT on —> Read More