Home Health Physicist Battiston: “Elon Musk could really arrive on Mars within 10 years”

Physicist Battiston: “Elon Musk could really arrive on Mars within 10 years”

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If in the sixties Space represented the battleground between superpowers like Russia and the United States, today the private billionaires are the real protagonists of the so-called Space Race, which could lead to Mars in a decade.

To draw the picture is physical Roberto Battiston, president of the Italian Space Agency from 2014 to 2018, which, waiting to speak at the ninth edition of the Innovation and Science Festival (from 9 to 16 October in Settimo Torinese), exemplifies the situation as follows: “Today the Space Race is not so much a race between superpowers, including there is less willingness to collaborate than a few years ago, but rather one competition between individuals. This is somewhat reminiscent of the old adventurers who built railways in the United States, only this time we are not going to the West but to Space. “

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So will a billionaire, like Musk or Bezos, reach Mars?
“The Red Planet is Musk’s real target, who is already implementing all-out initiatives in the space sector to cross the finish line. SpaceX number one wants to go to Mars within a decade, but not even NASA aims to set foot on the planet in such a short-term horizon, also because, compared to the Moon, the journey is longer and in general presents still unresolved problems. The fact remains that, in a ten-year perspective, the only one who could make the difference is Musk, perhaps dragging other private individuals like Bezos with him, as already done with space tourism. This is the scenario that is taking shape and that only 10 years ago would have been unthinkable “.

And the world superpowers will be watching?
“Until a few years ago, Space was conceived as a context with unique characteristics for establishing peaceful collaboration between states. The latest moves, however, indicate that geopolitics has taken over and that the United States is reinterpreting space planning as an operation to be conducted with countries that are friends or more friends than others, starting with Europe, Canada and Japan. Thus, if even 4-5 years ago we looked at the conquest of Mars from a multilateral and collaborative perspective, today the United States, Russia, China and India tend to move with isolated and independent initiatives “.

Consequently, leaving more space to private individuals …
“Exactly. A trend that has also clearly emerged from the contract recently awarded by NASA to SpaceX for the transport of cargo to the Moon, preferring Musk’s company over Bezos’ Blue Origin. The message is that NASA pays private companies for some services, such as cargo transport. Then, as we all know, SpaceX it also transports private citizens into space“.

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What will be the economic consequences of space tourism, which in effect started in the summer of 2021?
“The rocket launch, just to resort to a play on words, of private space travel shows that it is realistic to assume that the so-called Space Economy, with an estimated value of almost 400 billion dollars, has a multiplier effect similar to that of football. To evaluate the consequences, one must not look only at individual trips. And in this regard it should be emphasized that it can go from the hundreds of thousands of euros of Richard Branson’s July mission up to the 40-50 million per person that Jared Isaacman is said to have paid for Inspiration4 with SpaceX. In reality, it is necessary to consider all the related activities around it: from the broadcasting rights granted to TVs or streaming platforms to the clothing of the protagonists of travel, with the related advertising implications in the world of fashion and beyond. In short, the new space economy does not only concern individual missions, but has much wider repercussions on everyday life. And this brings us back to situations we have already seen, where Space is only a cog in a wider circuit that leads back to the more traditional economy “.

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