By Brian D. Bradley
So Elon Musk and the dream weavers at SpaceX released a video simulation of what their long awaited Interplanetary Transport System and a mission to colonize Mars might look like. And, to be frank, it’s the best thing you’re going to watch today. Easily. This is especially true because on this, the day after the first presidential debate, a rocket ship leaving Earth for the cold, dead surface of a distant planet looks pretty damned good. But it’s also wicked cool and tremendously inspiring.
Musk, who is definitely an ancient wizard come to save us, released the video just an hour ahead of a scheduled appearance at some science-y conference in Mexico. It’s basically four minutes of cool animation accompanied by some excellent space music that outlines how the vehicle would work in a mission to mars. It also makes you believe that we just might be more than gapped tooth alt-right dunder heads with pistols strapped to our cargo shorts and t-shirts that reads “‘Merica fer ‘Mericans!”. Here’s a brief rundown of my feelings (and this all about feelings) as I watched it:
Press PLAY and read along!
HERE WE GO!
0:04 – Great music over a pre-dawn launch pad as, what looks like, twenty people walk across a sky bridge to the space vehicle which is perched atop the rocket. I read somewhere that this rocket is called the “BFR” which stands for “Big Fucking Rocket”, cause they’re all edgy and shit over at SpaceX. Whatevs, I’m in! Let’s big fucking light this big fucking candle!
0:44 – After some sexy tracking shots up and down the rocket as music swells, my nerd boner is engaged and then… boom… the engines fire! There are great sound effects of this powerful engine (actually it’s, like, 10 mini engines) as it lifts the rocket into orbit. In the lower right of the screen, stats show some impressive numbers that tell us this is indeed a big fucking rocket. Goodbye Florida! Don’t let any meth heads break into our apartment while we’re on Mars!
1:18 – We’re in space baby and it’s time for separation. The space vehicle, which is really cool and sleek and has a ton of windows, moves away from the first stage and coasts off to something called “parking orbit”. Oof, finding parking is not fun. But up in the vast emptiness of space it’s probably easier than getting a spot at Costco on a Saturday, so on we go. And then… and you knew this was coming, because it’s a SpaceX favorite… that first stage turns around and rockets back to Earth. That’s right kids, they’re gonna re-use that joker! The space music is still cranking. And there’s three minutes to go. Can’t wait for act two!
1:59 – You’ve seen the videos of Falcon rockets returning to Earth. You know how this goes. The booster uses a retro-rocket to land on the pad. But, unlike a large percentage of the real life falcons, this one doesn’t explode. Phew. Then something weird happens. A nearby crane lifts a new vehicle onto the top of the booster. It’s a propellant tanker. WHAT?! That mother’s gonna take off again?! Elon Musk you are the dreamer of dreams, you are the music maker, brah!
2:25 – The rocket has returned to space (like a boss) and the propellant tanker has separated and is slowly moving toward the space vehicle. I guess this tanker is there to fuel up the ship for its trip to Mars. Very smart. Though, like landing that booster back on Earth, this does look like one of those procedures that, in real life, could easily end in a fiery ball of terror. But we’re dreaming here. Also, not gonna lie, there’s something vaguely sexy about this sequence. It’s like two little space bugs joining up for naughty times. Then they just float there connected, basking in the afterglow of their joining, until they have to separate again. Mr. Propellant goes back to Earth and Ms. Space Ship takes off for Mars. It’s heartbreaking, but that’s how it has to be. Okay, I may have just revealed something about myself that I wish I hadn’t. I feel weird now. Oh well, this is the web and our comments don’t live forever or anything. Moving on!
2:47 – The spaceship is cruising toward Mars, when all of sudden these solar arrays deploy. The lower left text says they have 200kW of power. Not sure if that’s a lot, but what I am sure of is that when they fan out they look unbelievably cool, making the vehicle look like a strange creature of the deep ocean. It’s actually beautiful. This is one hot ship, man. Shit, I’m doing it again.
3:20 – The ship is now in the long “Interplanetary Coast” section of the trip as it flies toward Mars. The video doesn’t tell us how long this trip would take or what life would be like for the crew during it’s duration. In fact, it’s a little thin on some of those details. But they make up for this with a wide shot that shows our little ship moving across a field of stars, her solar fans reflecting the light just so. It’s emotional. I want to be a 5 year old kid so that I can grow up and fly on this ship instead of a fat TV writer who still hasn’t put on pants at 1:39pm.
3:30 – We’re close on the nose of the ship. This allows us to get a look through some of those windows. One small quibble here… there doesn’t seem to be anybody or anything inside the space ship. What happened? Did the crew encounter an anomaly during flight and disappear through a hole in space and time? Was there ever a crew in the first place?! What the fu… oh look we’re swinging around now and we’re finally at Mars! Mars is so cool. What was I just saying? Oh who cares? MARS!!!
3:41 – The ship is falling through the thin atmosphere of Mars. It sort of looks like the shuttle used to when it returned to Earth and it is heating up pretty good. The lower left text says it’s going to get up to 3,092 degrees Fahrenheit. This looks like another potentially explode-y moment. And so does what happens at…
3:52 – The ship makes its landing on the surface of Mars vertically, using what looks like the same tech the reusable booster uses to return to Earth. Except this time the rocket is 33.9 million miles from home and is filled with a bunch of people (allegedly). Good Lord, this looks sketchy. But it also looks super fucking rad. I’ll buy it. We’ve come this far, let’s go all the way.
4:00 – Oh there are people in there. I mean we just see the back of their helmets as the door slides open to reveal their new home, but they look like people. My only hope is that the camera doesn’t swing around to face them and reveal that their suits are filled with SKELETONS! But, mercifully, before that can happen, we zip back out to space where we see Mars rotating faster and faster. Time is passing and as it does we can see that the planet is getting greener and bluer. Oh shit, they’re terraforming that bitch! Perfect! Bravo! Let’s watch it again!
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