Update for 8 pm ET: Read our full story on Elon Musk's Mars Interplanetary Transport ship announcement today here: SpaceX's Elon Musk Unveils Interplanetary Spaceship to Colonize Mars
A breathtaking new video vividly illustrates how billionaire Elon Musk, founder and CEO of the private spaceflight company SpaceX, would like to send humans to Mars.
The gorgeous, computer-animated video will strike a chord with space fans, as it paints a vivid and seemingly realistic picture of humans journeying to the Red Planet. It features a list of specific technologies that could be used in a human mission to Mars, including a launch from Earth and on-orbit spaceship refueling, the use of solar arrays to power the human space capsule, and a booster-powered descent onto the Red Planet.
SpaceX released the video just in time: A few short hours later, Musk revealed the long-awaited details of the company's plans to explore Mars. Musk spoke at the International Astronautical Congress meeting in Guadalajara, Mexico, and was expected to follow his presentation with a news conference. [Slideshow: SpaceX's Interplanetary Transport System for Mars in Images]
The SpaceX video has no narration, but a few subtitles point out the key technologies that Musk may discuss in his talk. In addition, the end of the short movie seems to show the eventual terraforming of the Martian surface, which Musk has said he would like to see happen (perhaps with the aid of nuclear bombs).
Some details have already been made public regarding SpaceX's plan to send robotic probes and, eventually, humans to Mars. (Musk has said repeatedly that he founded the company with the long-term goal of colonizing Mars.) The company is working on a rocket called the Falcon Heavy that would be large enough to send payloads to Mars. The company has also announced plans to send one of its Dragon spacecraft to Mars by as early as 2018.