Elon's Vision of the Mars Colony
Initially, glass panes with carbon fiber frames to build geodesic domes on the surface, plus a lot of miner/tunneling droids. With the latter, you can build out a huge amount of pressurized space for industrial operations and leave the glass domes for green living space.
Babylon 5 TV show referred to a Mars city with a big dome and tube transport. Tube transport similar to Musk vision of Hyperloop
Real Mars and Spacex Plans
The current Mars plan is:
- Send Dragon scouting missions, initially just to make sure we know how to land without adding a crater and then to figure out the best way to get water for the CH4/O2 Sabatier Reaction.
- Heart of Gold spaceship flies to Mars loaded only with equipment to build the propellant plant.
- First crewed mission with equipment to build rudimentary base and complete the propellant plant.
- Try to double the number of flights with each Earth-Mars orbital rendezvous, which is every 26 months, until the city can grow by itself.
The Flight Tank for the Interstellar Transport was the most important part of the announcement
The flight tank will actually be slightly longer than the development tank shown, but the same diameter.
That was built with latest and greatest carbon fiber prepreg. In theory, it should hold cryogenic propellant without leaking and without a sealing linker. Early tests are promising.
Will take it up to 2/3 of burst pressure on an ocean barge in the coming weeks.
The spaceship would be limited to around 5 g's nominal, but able to take peak loads 2 to 3 times higher without breaking up.
Booster would be nominal of 20 and maybe 30 to 40 without breaking up.
Spacex and Elon Musk have the 61 page presentation of the Interplanetary Transport System and the plan from early exploration to a sustainable colony on Mars
Spacex has built a full sized carbon composite fuel tank.
The Interplanetary Transport system can launch 550 tons to low earth orbit which is nearly four times as much as the Saturn V. It would be over four times as powerful as the SLS in the final version of the SLS
Next version of Falcon 9 will have uprated thrust
Final Falcon 9 has a lot of minor refinements that collectively are important, but uprated thrust and improved legs are the most significant.
Elon thinks the F9 boosters could be used almost indefinitely, so long as there is scheduled maintenance and careful inspections. Falcon 9 Block 5 -- the final version in the series -- is the one that has the most performance and is designed for easy reuse, so it just makes sense to focus on that long term and retire the earlier versions. Block 5 starts production in about 3 months and initial flight is in 6 to 8 months, so there isn't much point in ground testing Block 3 or 4 much beyond a few reflights.