SpaceX founder and CEO Elon Musk offered Reddit users an optimistic glimpse into the possible future — his future — during an Ask Me Anything (AMA) session on Sunday.
During the freewheeling conversation, Musk answered a question about permanent habitation on Mars with descriptions that sounded like they came out of a science fiction novel. “Initially, glass planes with carbon fiber frames to build geodesic domes on the surface, plus a lot of miner/tunneling droids,” Musk wrote. “With the latter, you can build out a huge amount of pressurized space for industrial operations and leave the glass domes for green living space.”
That said, Musk was willing to dial it back a bit. When a Redditer asked about the technology that Musk had already “nailed down,” he candidly replied, “Not sure that we’ve really mastered anything yet. Maybe starting engines…”
One Redditer asked Musk how the devices used for EDL (Entry, Descent, and Landing) would operate when returning to Earth. “Good question — that wasn’t shown at IAC [the International Astronautical Federation],” Musk responded. “The spaceship and tanker would have split body flaps for pitch and roll. Probably use the attitude control thrusters for yaw.”
Another user asked about the function of “two mystical spherical tanks” on the ITS spaceship. “Those are the header tanks that contain the landing propellant,” Musk replied. “They are separate in order to have greater insulation and minimize boil-off, avoid sloshing on entry and not have to press up the whole main tank.”
The Reddit conversation was a follow up to a presentation Musk delivered in September at the IAC about his long-term plans for colonizing Mars.