Musk outlines plans for Mars

The first humans sent by SpaceX to Mars won't be astronauts, but engineers, boss Elon Musk has said.

The rocket biz plans to send over unmanned Dragon capsules at first "to make sure we know how to land without adding a crater," Musk said during a Reddit chat. The landers would also carry equipment to see how easily oxygen and methane can be manufactured in the Martian atmosphere using the Sabatier reaction.

Once SpaceX gets its Heart of Gold spacecraft's 42 engines up and running, the first computer-controlled flights will transport the fuel manufacturing facility, followed by around a dozen engineers who can build and operate it (assuming they live).

They will also build – with robot assistance – living quarters at "Mars Base Alpha." Glass and carbon-fiber greenhouses will be erected to allow for food production, and then they'll tunnel down under the surface to create living and storage space.

Musk also touched on his love of whiskey – and the SR-71 spy plane – and gave support for a science mission to Europa. You can read the full conversation here. ®

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