Mars ahoy

How SpaceX's Starship will take us to Mars and back

Elon Musk's behemoth rocket could help humans become a space-faring species

Originally Published: 


Elon Musk has a big plan: to send humans to Mars by the 2030s.

He's going to do that with SpaceX’s Starship rocket.

Starship refers to the Super Heavy rocket and the payload craft, which will carry humans and equipment to Mars.

Its original name was Big F***ing Rocket, with good reason. With both stages, the craft stands nearly 400 feet tall and stretches 30 feet wide.

37 Raptor engines will lift the rocket with its 100 metric-ton payload off Earth’s surface.

That’s about 16 million pounds of thrust.

Starship’s second stage contains 6 Raptor engines to propel it to Mars.

In August 2019, a prototype Starship, called Starhopper, lifted 500 feet into the air using a single Raptor engine and successfully descended.

This test marked a major achievement for Starship hardware.

Resupply missions to the International Space Station have helped SpaceX perfect in-space docking, a key component to orbital refueling.


Liquid oxygen and methane fuel will propel Starship to Mars, as opposed to the usual RP-1 kerosene propellant.

Once on Mars, explorers will be able to use the planet’s atmospheric carbon dioxide and water from ice deposits to make the fuel that will bring them home.

Musk envisions building fuel depots on the Red Planet that would be powered by solar energy.


Fuel depots would allow Mars explorers to expand new communities across the planet.

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