Being able to reuse launchers at will will undoubtedly be profitable in the long term for SpaceX, corn Elon musk is already considering other ways to lower costs, starting with extracting CO2 from the atmosphere… to transform it into rocket fuel! While SpaceX has yet to describe precisely how it plans to go about it, turning CO2 into fuel could prove essential for the future trip to Mars.
In theory, the rocket for Mars (an advanced model of the current Starship) would barely be able to carry enough fuel for the outward journey, but could not carry the necessary reserves for the return trip. Fortunately, Mars’ atmosphere contains mostly CO2 (96%), and that’s good news: experts at NASA or SpaceX believe that it would be quite possible to produce rocket fuel from large quantities of CO2. The process would build in part on the principles underlying the Sabatier reaction: this chemical reaction discovered in 1897 states that carbon dioxide (CO2) and hydrogen under high pressure can produce methane and hydrogen. water.
NASA is already testing the transformation of Martian CO2 into oxygen thanks to the program Mars Oxygen In-Situ Resource Utilization Experiment (MOXIE) set up by the Rover Perseverance, but it is then a question of anticipating the oxygen needs of a future Martian colony. SpaceX has a whole different goal, and is already looking for cutting edge profiles to achieve it. A few days ago, Elon Musk in person formalized on Twitter this CO2 transformation project: “SpaceX is launching a program to extract CO2 from the atmosphere and turn it into rocket fuel. Please contact us if you are interested “.