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Elon Musk: SpaceX Mars Colonial Transporter Could ‘Go Beyond’ Mars

Sep 19, 2016 05:21 AM EDT
Dragon spacecraft
SpaceX CEO Elon Musk hinted that the company’s Mars Colonial Transporter is not limited to just a trip to Mars.
(Photo : SpaceX / Wikimedia Commons)

One of SpaceX's most ambitious projects could even be more ambitious than previously thought. SpaceX CEO Elon Musk revealed on Twitter that the company's Mars Colonial Transporter (MCT) "can go well beyond Mars," and will, therefore, need a new name.

Musk's statement had launched a series of name suggestions for the spaceship, which included Heart of Gold after the ship in the novel "Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy," Phoenix, Transport McTransportFace, Musk and Beyond, Enterprise, Far From Earth, and many others. Musk also made his own name suggestion to the pile with Ultimate Spaceship.

The Mars Colonial Transporter will be capable of transporting 100 people at a time to the Red Planet. It will consist of a first stage booster and a second stage spaceship, and will be powered a Raptor rocket engine. The Raptor, which is powered by methane and liquid oxygen, is SpaceX's next-generation rocket engine and is said to be three times more powerful than the Merlin engines that power the Falcon 9 and the Falcon Heavy rocket.

In early August, SpaceX shipped a Raptor engine to the company's test site in McGregor, Texas, where developmental tests would be conducted. It is also said that the engine design would be fully reusable and consistent with SpaceX's pursuit for reusable rockets.

The pilot unmanned MCT is slated to launch in 2022, and the first crewed mission will be expected by 2024, TechCrunch reports.

Musk's announcement on Twitter is timely, as the billionaire entrepreneur will discuss more about MCT at the International Astronautical Congress on Sept. 27, as well as deliver a keynote speech titled "Making Humans a Multiplanetary Species."

Earlier this month, SpaceX suffered a huge mishap when its Falcon 9 rocket exploded on its launch pad in Cape Canaveral, destroying the Israeli Amos-6 satellite commissioned by social media behemoth Facebook. The company is still investigating the root cause of the explosion. Despite this, SpaceX already announced that it is anticipating the Falcon 9's return-to-flight mission in November.

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