The Starship hasn’t taken off yet, but Elon Musk already wants a thousand

The sulphurous billionaire reaffirms his ambition to build a fleet of 1000 Starships which would serve as an interplanetary Noah’s Ark to conquer Mars by 2050.

Last February, Elon Musk finally gave news of the Starship after a long period of silence. Slowly but surely, the colossus that will become SpaceX’s spearhead is beginning to see the end of the tunnel. Enough to fill the tank of optimism of the sulphurous billionaire, who reaffirmed his extremely ambitious roadmap; the final version of the Starship has still not taken off, but Musk already plans to produce a thousand to conquer Mars by 2050.

In any case, this is what the billionaire said on Twitter. His plan is to “build over 1000 Starships to carry life to mars. A (very) modern Noah’s Ark, in short”. During a recent interview with the TED corporation, he said he intended to achieve this goal by 2050. He therefore gives himself thirty years to build a space armada without equal in the history of humanity.

Musk and ambitious deadlines, a long love story

It’s a statement that is sure to raise many eyebrows, as is often the case with Musk. On the one hand, SpaceX’s history argues in its favour; it’s a company that has completely revolutionized aerospace from the ground up in just two decades.

And this success, it owes in large part to Musk’s go-getter temperament; as long as he remains in charge to put pressure on his troops, nothing is impossible. But over time, the public also learned to be wary of its flashy announcements. His taste for speed has already led him to announce deadlines that are completely extravagant and incompatible with reality.

Today, SpaceX project managers probably sweat profusely as soon as the big boss begins to communicate on the slightest deadline. And for good reason: as it stands, despite the optimism displayed by Musk, the firm is simply not ready to fly a Starship. Before we can launch the first gear, there is still a long way to go.

Technological and regulatory obstacles

It starts with the famous Raptor engine, the development of which has accumulated a monstrous delay. Problematic, knowing that it is an essential element for all of SpaceX’s short and medium-term projects; Musk even claimed that the company risked bankruptcy if its development continued to stall (see our article).

At the conference last February, Musk hinted half-heartedly that engineers were finally starting to see the end of the tunnel. But we will still have to wait for the maiden flight of the first real Starship to know for sure.

Plus, it’s not just the Raptor and other tech issues that are slowing down SpaceX. As it stands, even if the company already had a perfectly functional ship, it wouldn’t even have the right to launch it! Indeed, the potential obstacles to this launch are not only technical: they are also administrative and regulatory.

For many months, the Federal Aviation Administration (the American government aeronautical regulatory agency) has been interested in the environmental impact of the Boca Chica site, from where the Starship should be launched. Until the evaluation is completed, SpaceX will not be able to launch its Starship from its famous Starbase. The agency could even require additional guarantees, which would further prolong the process (see our article).

Musk wants to be reassuring, but the public is now used to taking his roadmap with tweezers. © TED / Elon Musk (YouTube screenshot)

A remarkable allusion to Noah’s Ark

And even once all these lights are green, the game will not be won. Because it’s one thing to take a unique Starship back and forth; it’s quite another to organize the logistics of moving a whole section of humanity to another inhospitable planet.

Will Musk achieve his goals by 2050 as predicted? Hard to say; as it stands, the billionaire’s predictions should not be taken at face value. Recall that barely two years ago, Musk planned to send astronauts to Mars… between 2024 and 2026 (see our article). A deadline that today seems unattainable; as a reminder, even the Artemis 3 mission which must bring humans back to the Moon is scheduled for 2025 at the earliest.

What is more obvious, however, is that Musk seems very eager to don his mantle as savior of humanity, as evidenced by the biblical reference to Noah’s Ark. As a reminder, it was a boat intended to save animal species from the Flood which was built on the orders of… God himself, just that! Whether it’s a tell-all slip of an inflated ego or an innocent rambling about the future of our species, one thing is certain: whether humanity lands on Mars in 2050 or later, we don’t. haven’t finished hearing about SpaceX and Elon Musk.

Leave a Comment