Mars Base Alpha

SpaceX Mars Base Alpha
"Mars Base Alpha" is the code name given to the proposed first human base on Mars by SpaceX CEO and lead designer Elon Musk. It can be argued if SpaceX will be in a position to have the naming rights for the first human base on Mars and even if it will – is SpaceX intended to keep the name. It's quite possible there will be, for example, some public naming contest for the name of the base. Whatever it is, we will use Mars Base Alpha as a code name for the first human base on Mars.. for now.

The establishment of Mars Base Alpha will be enabled with the development of SpaceX's Big Falcon Rocket, capable to bring large quantity of cargo and passengers to the surface of Mars. First there will be sent at least two cargo ships (to separate locations) to confirm the best place for a sustainable human base; the landing zone should be located in low elevation at less than 40° latitude for best solar power production, relatively warm temperature, and critically: it must be near a massive sub-surface water ice deposit. There are four regions currently considered by SpaceX for the landing site – Deuteronilus Mensae, Phlegra Montes, Utopia Planitia and southern Arcadia Planitia with the later one being the most promising.

After the robotic evaluation will be done there will come two crewed ships and two cargo ships with about two dozen astronauts and the main objective to build a propellant plant and solar array, as well as some greenhouses and landing pads for future missions. Those first settlers will live in the landed Big Falcon Ships as temporary habitats which will stay on Mars for several years or even forever. The propellant plant would produce methane and liquid oxygen from sub-surface water ice and atmospheric CO2 to refuel cargo Big Falcon Ships for the return trip.

SpaceX is hoping to perform those first landings in 2023 (cargo) and 2025 (crew+cargo) but we estimate it will happen a few Earth-Mars synods later – in 2027 and 2031 respectively – as developing a large human-rated spacecraft will definitely encounter unexpected obstacles and delays.

SpaceX Big Falcon Rocket Mars transportation architecture

After setting up the fundamentals for the base, every Earth-Mars synod (26 months) there will arrive ever increasing number of workers and settlers, gradually building Mars Base Alpha and expanding its industrial, power, mining and indoor farming capabilities. To get protection from high rates of radiation on Mars the base should be partially built underground. Most likely it's the main reason Elon Musk has established The Boring Company – to get experience and develop innovative methods for tunneling which will be very valuable on Mars.

As flights to Mars with chemical rockets are possible only for a few months during a 26 month cycle (because of Earth and Mars rotating the Sun at different periods), Mars Base Alpha will need to become as self-sufficient as soon as possible. Producing its own food, power, fuel and basic necessities can become a matter of life and death. 3D-printing technologies, printing spare parts from local materials, regenerative life support, extreme saving on resources will become an unquestioned part of the way of live in the colony. SpaceX is not planing to do all of these activities alone – any company or space agency able to contribute to the growth of the colony will be welcome.

SpaceX Mars City

Mars City


"Mars City" is the name Elon Musk gave to the first human colony on Mars in some earlier presentations of SpaceX's Mars colonization architecture. It would be an awkward name for a small outpost the Mars Base Alpha will be initially but after several decades of colonization when the population of the base will reach several thousand the name Mars City would fit quite well. We estimate it will happen in late 2050s with the construction of the first large-scale transparent dome.

SpaceX has mentioned a goal of terraforming Mars eventually but, even if the efforts will be started early on, the first notable results, not even speaking about full terraformation, will be seen only centuries ahead.

⇛ Official and fan-made art of Mars Base Alpha and Mars City here at humanMars.net


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