Can reusable rockets help us get to Mars?

SpaceX CEO Elon Musk has kicked off an initiative to build the world’s first completely reusable rocket and spaceship.

Musk believes reusable space equipment will significantly decrease the cost of launching cargo and humans into space – which could help facilitate the exploration and colonization of other planets such as Mars.

Although the millionaire CEO acknowledged the inherent difficulties of such an initiative, he said he remained determined to see it through, with the eventual goal of sending astronauts to the Red Planet in 10-20 years.  

According to Musk, any realistic colonization of Mars would require shipping thousands of people and millions of tons of cargo from Earth, something which isn’t exactly feasible with current launch costs.

However, a fully reusable would significantly decrease costs.

“The cost of the fuel and oxygen and so forth is only about $200,000. So obviously, if we can reuse the rocket, say, a thousand times, then that would make the capital cost of the rocket for launch only about $50,000,”  said Musk.

“[But] we will see if this works… And if it does work, it’ll be pretty huge. We have a design that on paper – doing the calculations, doing the simulations – it does work. Now we need to make sure those simulations and reality agree because generally, when they don’t, reality wins.”