When SpaceX CEO Elon Musk took to the stage at the International Astronautical Congress in Mexico on Monday, he announced his bold vision to send humanity into the Solar System, he laid out one of the most elaborate and ambitious projects ever put forward in the field of human space exploration.
Like many of you, I watched his announcement slack jawed at the implications.
My first thought? A spaceship capable of carrying 100 humans from Earth to Mars with a reusable main stage? Uh, that’s ambitious.
Scott Manley is one of my favorite YouTubers/Twitch Streamers. In case you’ve never seen him before, Scott is an absolute master of the space game, running instructional videos on EVE Online, Kerbal Space Program and other cosmic simulations.
The planets aligned, and Scott was planning to run a livestream game on his Twitch channel Monday night, so I jumped in and provided colour commentary while Scott constructed all aspects of the mission: a spacecraft capable of carrying 100 Kerbals safely to the surface of the Red Planet (Duna), a monster booster rocket to blast the crew compartment into orbit, and a refueling module that travels on a re-purposed booster.
Over the course of 2-hours, Scott built and tested all parts of the Interplanetary Transport Ship in KSP to varying levels of success. Some boosters exploded, Kerbals were left stranded on the surface of Duna (maybe that does match Musk’s plans), and Scott was unable to use the docking claw to mate spacecraft to transfer fuel.
In Scott’s defense, though, he was consuming 10% space beer during the broadcast.
But if I know Scott, he’s working on version 2 right now, and we’ll see a smooth video demonstrating all aspects of the mission shortly.
If you haven’t already, go ahead and subscribe to Scott’s channel, and enjoy the silliness.
P.S. If you’re interested in space games, Pamela and I discuss them in this week’s Astronomy Cast.