Elon Musk has grand plans to send humans to Mars on a SpaceX rocket, and it looks like it will be named after a spaceship from sci-fi novel “The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy.”
The beloved novel was written by the late Douglas Adams, and SpaceX CEO Elon Musk said that his first Mars spaceship will be named “Heart of Gold” in honor of the novel, writes Mike Wall for Space.com.
Musk inspired by sci-fi novel when naming spaceship
“Heart of Gold” is a spaceship featured in the novel, which looks like a big white sports shoes. It is able to cover every point in every universe at once thanks to the Infinite Improbability Drive, which itself is powered by a Bambleweeny 57 Sub-Meson Brain and a cup of hot tea.
“I think probably we’ll name the first ship that goes to Mars ‘Heart of Gold,'” Musk said during a presentation at the International Astronautical Congress (IAC) in Guadalajara, Mexico. “I like the fact that it’s driven by infinite improbability, because I think our ship is also extremely improbable.”
Over the course of his presentation at the IAC, Musk showed off SpaceX’s Interplanetary Transport System (ITS). It plans to use the reusable rocket-spaceship craft to start colonizing Mars in around 10 years time.
While ITC is the name of the wider architecture, it seems that each individual spaceship will have its own name. And the first of those is likely to be “Heart of Gold.”
SpaceX craft names taken from science fiction
Musk is a self-confessed sci-fi fan and has form for naming SpaceX vessels after the books that he loves. The two robotic “drone ships” used as landing platforms for the SpaceX Falcon 9 reusable rockets are called “Of Course I Still Love You” and “Just Read the Instructions.” The names are taken from a pair of sentient starships from Iain M. Banks’ series “Culture.”
At the same time Musk has also admitted to naming the Falcon rocket family after Han Solo’s Millenium Falcon from Star Wars, and the Dragon spacecraft take their name from Puff the Magic Dragon.
Musk certainly has some ambitious plans for Mars colonization. If he can execute his plan we will one day see thousands of ITS spaceships making the journey to Mars, carrying colonists and equipment.
First manned mission to Mars could come as soon as 2024
The journey doesn’t necessarily have to be one way, as each spaceship will make a number of return journeys. Musk believes that there could be a human colony of around 1 million people on Mars in the not too distant future.
As for Musk himself, he says he would like to travel to Mars at some point. However he doesn’t know if he will go on the first flight on the “Heart of Gold.” The SpaceX CEO believes that the first flight could take place as early as 2024.
“I would definitely need to have a very good succession plan, because the probability of death is quite high on the first mission, and I’d like to see my kids grow up and everything,” Musk said. “So, some pros and cons there.”
While all of these plans sound very impressive, the fact remains that SpaceX will need outside investment if it is to make it. NASA is currently working on its own Mars mission, but things could change due to budget constraints.
Musk and SpaceX are betting big on Mars, but there are still plenty of unknowns.