On Tuesday, September 27th, during the International Astronautical Congress (IAC), Elon Musk, CEO and Chief Designer of SpaceX, announced the company’s plans to colonize Mars, with the long-term goal of humans becoming a multi-planetary species. Musk described an Interplanetary Transport System and how it’s design seeks to overcome the long-standing challenges of sustainably moving large numbers of passengers and large cargo off-world.
The plan Musk presented certainly has both technical and financial flaws. Yet the essence of the vision is a shared one: humans must develop a sustainable, space-faring civilization, and become a multi-planetary species.
This announcement comes on the heels of Jeff Bezos’ announcement about plans for the New Glenn rocket, with hints of an even larger New Armstrong rocket to come.
With the current state of NASA’s Space Launch System (SLS), and the advancements being made by other major players in the space launch sector, it’s becoming ever more apparent that business opportunities will soon exist beyond global.
The endeavor of becoming a multi-planetary species isn’t the result of a lone effort by a single entrepreneur, nor is it simply the work of a group of billionaire visionaries. Settling off-world requires the development of an interplanetary industry, built with small, medium, and large companies, fixated on profitability, while determined to support the survival of our species. As noted by Musk’s most vocal critics, these kinds of plans won’t make a profit in the time horizons of typical businesses. They are long-term business plans, driven by the triple bottom line of people, profit, and planet.
The public discourse that Musk’s speech created allows organizations worldwide to discuss the future of our species more openly. It is this open discourse which inspired NewSpace Chicago to be created, and we fully support these future-minded conversations. We believe that private enterprise is paving the road to space, a road blazed through the wilderness by NASA and others. Initiatives such as this will spark a technological renaissance in space exploration, leading to long-term space settlement. This will stimulate new businesses and start-ups, benefiting not only Chicago and the United States, but all of our homeworld.