Elon Musk Teases Images of SpaceX 'Moon Base Alpha' and 'Mars City'

SpaceX CEO Elon Musk took to Instagram to share a tantalizing sneak peek of his vision of space colonization tonight ahead of a much-anticipated presentation at the International Astronautical Congress in Australia. 

A photo posted by on

First, Musk posted an artist's illustration he called "Moon Base Alpha" depicting SpaceX's Interplanetary Transport Vehicles (ITVs) at what appears to be base on the moon. Gray round domes in the distance offer a hint of habitation areas for astronauts while the Earth shines in the sky overhead. 

A second image, which Musk captioned "Mars City," shows an illustration of just that: a glass-domed city on Mars with SpaceX's giant ITV colony ships bathed in brilliant spotlights. 

A photo posted by on

"Opposite of Earth," Musk wrote in the Instagram post. "Dawn and dusk sky are blue on Mars and day sky is red." 

Musk will speak at 12:30 a.m. EDT (0430 GMT/2 p.m. local time) at the International Astronautical Congress in Adelaide to present an update to his vision for Mars colonization that he first presented last year at the 2016 IAC meeting. The upcoming talk, "Making Life Multiplanetary," will detail "the long-term technical challenges that need to be solved to support the creation of a permanent, self-sustaining human presence on Mars," according to a SpaceX description.

You can watch Elon Musk's presentation here, courtesy of SpaceX, and directly from SpaceX here.

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Tariq Malik

Tariq is the Editor-in-Chief of Space.com and joined the team in 2001, first as an intern and staff writer, and later as an editor. He covers human spaceflight, exploration and space science, as well as skywatching and entertainment. He became Space.com's Managing Editor in 2009 and Editor-in-Chief in 2019. Before joining Space.com, Tariq was a staff reporter for The Los Angeles Times covering education and city beats in La Habra, Fullerton and Huntington Beach. In October 2022, Tariq received the Harry Kolcum Award for excellence in space reporting from the National Space Club Florida Committee. He is also an Eagle Scout (yes, he has the Space Exploration merit badge) and went to Space Camp four times as a kid and a fifth time as an adult. He has journalism degrees from the University of Southern California and New York University. You can find Tariq at Space.com and as the co-host to the This Week In Space podcast with space historian Rod Pyle on the TWiT network. To see his latest project, you can follow Tariq on Twitter @tariqjmalik.