Elon Musk Reveals More Details About His Plan to Colonize Mars

SpaceX CEO Elon Musk revealed a trove of new details on the company’s plan to colonize Mars.

He discussed technical details about the giant rocket that he says will take passengers to the Red Planet, the road map for getting to its first launch, and insights into SpaceX’s broader strategy in an “Ask Me Anything” forum on Reddit Saturday.

Musk was his typical freewheeling self during the AMA, quoting the cartoon Bob the Builder and responding to a question about spaceship design with the highly technical insight that “tails are lame.”

He also gamely responded to questions about tangential details of settling Mars, including speculation that settlers might use a compressed version of the Internet. Musk observed that data would take between 3 and 22 minutes to travel between Earth and Mars. “So you could Snapchat, I suppose. If that’s a thing in the future,” he wrote.

More substantively, Musk clarified the scope of SpaceX’s ambitions on Mars. Though he has shared images of vast Martian cities in his presentations on Mars colonization, he said SpaceX isn’t focused on building those cities itself.

“Our goal is get you there and ensure the basic infrastructure for propellant production and survival is in place. A rough analogy is that we are trying to build the equivalent of the transcontinental railway. A vast amount of industry will need to be built on Mars by many other companies and millions of people.”

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That means SpaceX will be designing and building things like systems for creating fuel from Martian resources, work that Musk said is “pretty far along.” But they won’t be focused on issues like how colonists grow food.

Musk also reiterated previous claims that SpaceX is designing the new Mars rocketstill code-named BFR, which stands for exactly what you think it does – to be as safe and reliable as today’s commercial airliners. That will be crucial if plans to use the BFR for transportation around Earth come to fruition.

Musk also shared some details about the game plan for testing the BFR ahead of its first scheduled flight in 2022.

“[We] will be starting with a full-scale Ship doing short hops of a few hundred kilometers in altitude and lateral distance,” Musk wrote. “Those are fairly easy on the vehicle, as no heat shield is needed, we can have a large amount of reserve propellant and don’t need the high area ratio, deep space Raptor engines.

“[The] next step will be doing orbital velocity Ship flights, which will need all of the above.”

SpaceX’s progress on its Falcon 9 rocket in recent years – especially its unprecedented success in landing and reusing rockets – has fascinated observers and re-energized public dialogue about space.


Another iPhone 7 Tipster Reveals A Significant Home Button Change

There has been speculation that Apple was going to completely revamp the home button feature in the iPhone 7. In October 2015, Piper Jaffray managing director and senior research analyst Gene Munster predicted that the home button on the iPhone 7 could be eliminated in favor of a digital button that would utilize 3D Touch. About 6 months later, supply chain sources told Storm Media that the iPhone 7 will have a touch-sensitive digital button rather than the traditional physical button separated from the display — which would make the front of the device completely flush. And this past week, sources with the Japan-based Apple news blog Mac Otakara agreed that the iPhone 7 will have touch-sensitive 3D Touch home button.

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Epic Games reveals Oculus Rift shooter Bullet Train

Bullet Train.

First-person shooting is about to get a lot more realistic.

Developer Epic Games revealed Bullet Train today, an FPS for the Oculus Rift virtual reality device, during the Oculus Connect 2 conference in Los Angeles. Made with Unreal Engine 4, this game supports the Oculus Touch controllers, which can map the movements of your hands in VR. Virtual reality can become a big deal in gaming, but it will need great software to attract consumers. Epic has a track record of making hits with series like Unreal and Gears of War.

“Master the art of teleportation, time manipulation, and close-quarters combat to blast through resistance forces,” Epic notes in a press release sent to GamesBeat. “Thanks to Unreal Engine technology and the Oculus Touch motion controllers, you can physically interact with an array of weapons, from guns to grenades to missiles, and even feel them through haptic feedback.”

You can watch the trailer for Bullet train below.

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