SpaceX is Going to Mars: Polaris Dawn Mission Now Targeting 2024October 11, 2023
SpaceX is paving the future of space exploration and making a longtime Sci-Fi dream a reality: human life on Mars. Polaris Dawn, the company’s latest project mission, is focused on interplanetary travel and habitation of the Red Planet, a monumental feat that has been the subject of space study since the 1940s. The first step in this process though, is creating the means for a commercial spacewalk with a team of astronauts that have been properly trained for take-off. However, the mission is seeing continued delays and setbacks. But when is SpaceX going to Mars? With the original launch date of 2022 now delayed to summer of 2024, will Polaris Dawn ever find its way to its destination?
Delays Give Way to New Technology
The Polaris Dawn mission was originally expected to launch early 2022, but was delayed to March 2023 “based on the readiness of hardware, software and training for the mission, as well as the overall manifest of SpaceX missions.”
During a routine investigation by the FAA after its first launch ended in an explosion, it was found that SpaceX’s other spacecraft, Starship, needed 63 fixes before another launch could be considered. This suggests that perhaps a hiatus with the Polaris mission is necessary as well, to further ensure its full safety and compliance.
But where one project stalls, another can flourish. As we have seen with the NASA Data Recorder equipment failure, mechanical failures are simply a part of the research process and can lead to new methods of improvement. As the Polaris project has been delayed even further (likely to summer of 2024), the mission team has directed its focus on the development of a new technologically advanced piece of equipment: the SpaceX Spacesuit. This suit would embody a cost-effective means for both astronauts and future clients to safely perform a spacewalk, or extra-vehicular activity, when exploring both the moon and Mars. These suits may even replace those currently used in NASA missions, especially for the upcoming Artemis 3 flight in 2025. Considering the necessary study and design improvements still needed for Polaris Dawn, the first flight would be but one of three in getting humans into space or on Mars.
Collaboration and Efforts Towards the Mission
To ensure the safety of the mission, trained professionals in the astronautical and space field need to work together in bringing this project to life. Polaris Dawn has a team of four astronauts chosen to lead this launch, and their unique experience and work backgrounds make them perfect for this role. From lead operations engineer to jet pilot trainer to medical officer to retired U.S. Air Force pilot, each of the crew has the diverse skills and education needed to make this mission a success. Additionally, teams of specialists, engineers, compliance officers, ground control, and other important members are also contributing their efforts towards the safety and success of this mission, each step of the way.
Interplanetary Travel and the Expansion of the Space Industry
Polaris Dawn and similar missions indicate a budding future for space exploration. Successes in the astronautical and space field mean big things for the expansion of the industry, which is already seeing an increased need to fill positions in this area. According to Morgan Stanley, it is expected that the space industry, which is currently a $350 billion global industry, could surge to over $1 trillion by 2040. NASA and SpaceX have several missions lined up for the next 10 years as well, indicating a continued call for systems engineers, technicians, compliance managers, R&D scientists, and other professionals to enter these roles.
Exploring a Career in Space
Space exploration has seen a rise in public interest and government funding in recent years, indicating a trend of tremendous growth for the foreseeable future. It is also one of Capitol Technology University’s top programs of interest, and our Aviation and Astronautical Sciences degrees are some of the most enrolled-in by incoming students.
Students earning their B.S. in Astronautical and Space Engineering or similar degrees within this field will work on projects including ground station satellites, ALPHA Observatory, Cactus-1 space payloads, high altitude balloon launches, and more. Our Space Flight Operations Training Center (SFOTC) allows students to gain hands-on experience with ground control and flight operations, and access our ALPHA Observatory to detect Near Earth Objects (NEOs) data. Through partnerships with NASA, U.S. Space Command, Royal Aeronautical Society (RAeS), and others, our students have opportunities for networking and internships in this growing field and our graduates are some of the most highly recruited by these industry leaders. In fact, many of our alumni and recent graduates currently work for NASA, and were assigned to high-profile missions like the James Webb Space Telescope (JWST).