Martian Architecture


In a recent “Ask Me Anything” discussion on Reddit, Elon Musk answered a handful of questions posed by users about the Interplanetary Transport System he announced in a September 27 speech at the International Astronautical Congress in Mexico.

Most of the questions he answered were in response to concerns regarding the key components of the mission, such as a reusable spacecraft designed to carry 100 people to the surface of Mars and return to Earth. Along with a large reusable booster that will utilize 42 of the company’s Raptor engines currently under development.

Other questions that Musk answered in the session, of multiple hundreds submitted, referred to specific technical aspects of the mission architecture. Elon has cited several aspects where there is already precedence; where it’s a matter of scaling an existing capability. Though he has noted that SpaceX has yet to figure out these technical aspects in detail.


With Elon and SpaceX virtually pioneering the interplanetary space frontier, I wonder what first-of-its-kind capabilities are part of the plan that the company will need to face? Things that come to mind are orbital refueling and synchronization between ships en route to avoid collisions. It’s a rather compelling question, as there is no previous knowledge as to what will succeed in such a setting. With such a daunting yet enlightening task, it’s certainly a guarantee that nothing less than groundbreaking innovation is ahead.

By Khai Tran


  1. Foust, Jeff. “Musk Offers More Details about Mars Mission Architecture.” SpaceNews. DisQus, 25 Oct. 2016. Web. 04 Nov. 2016. <;.

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