SpaceX Mars Planned Colonization Fleet Compared to American Airline Passenger Fleet

Elon Musk talked about needing one thousand Starship flights to create a sustainable Mars city.

American Airlines is the airline with largest fleet of passenger airplanes. American has 957 planes. 157 widebody planes and 782 narrow-body planes.

American is a $43 billion company. SpaceX is already valued at over $30 billion.

Elon would want to fly fleets of 100 Starships every two years to Mars over a twenty-year period. This would put 1 million tons of cargo onto Mars.

The cost of each Super Heavy Starship will eventually be around $100 million each. This is comparable the price of a 737 which are $90-135 million. The 777 costs about $300-450 million. A 787 costs about $240-350 million.

If SpaceX develops a fleet of 100 Super Heavy Starships for a massive Earth Orbit and Cis-lunar support fleet and they were flying once per day then they could move about 5 million tons to orbit every year. This would ten thousands times more than the 500 tons per year that are currently placed in orbit.

Elon Musk wrote a 16-page article that described a plan to reduce the cost to bring one person to Mars down to $100,000.

Elon Musk has a ballpark assumption that allocating one-ton of mass is enough for the passenger, supplies, and luggage.

Improving the Cost-Per-Ton to Mars from $10 Billion $200,000

Elon sees the following key elements to lower the costs to Mars.

Most of the improvement would come from full reusability somewhere between 100 to 500 times cheaper. SpaceX already has made 90% of the Falcon Heavy reusable. SpaceX is on the way to making a fully reusable Super Heavy Starship.

Refilling the fuel for rockets in orbit will lower the costs by about 5 times.

Making the fuel on Mars will enable the rockets to be sent back. Making fuel on Mars will allow the rocket to be 5 to 10 times smaller.

Methane is clearly the best fuel to use for lower cost rockets. Methane would require from 50% to 60% of the energy on Mars to refill propellant using a propellant depot. The technical challenges are far less for making methane fuel on Mars than any other option.

Elon figures there needs to be at least one million people in a Mars city in order to make it self-sustaining. Later versions of the Mars transports will be bigger. Elon wants to scale up to 1,000 ships carrying 100 to 200 people each.

Purdue Project Destiny Explored SpaceX ITS Variants for Mars City

In 2017, Purdue University engineers created a 331-page analysis for the Mars City. They looked at Mars food production, mining and the use of large cyclers.

They had a high cost of about $4 billion for each SAFE-800 nuclear reactor for cycler power.

The cost of nuclear reactors for space could be greatly reduced with the Kilopower reactors and the Los Alamos Megapower reactor which could be built as the Westinghouse eVinci reactors.

The eVinci could have over twelve times the power level as the SAFE-800. The eVinci could produce 10 megawatts instead of the 800 kilowatts of the SAFE-800.

SOURCES- New Space, Purdue University, Elon Musk, SpaceX, Twitter
Written By Brian Wang.