MCT = Mars Crew Transport
Wired recently interviewed Elon Musk about why he founded SpaceX and his long-term goal of settling Mars:
Anderson: And Dragon, the spacecraft you berthed with the ISS in May, has features that might eventually prepare it for a manned Mars mission.
Musk: Eventually, yes. The thrusters on Dragon are sized so they’ll be able to do launch escape—which means being able to move away from the rocket at a force of approximately 6 g’s. That same thrust level happens to be kind of a good number for supersonic retro-propulsion for landing on Mars.
There’s also a lot of myth debunking and bubble-bursting contained within, particularly in regards to the conventional wisdom on rocket construction and launch economics. But wait, there’s more!
Musk: Version two of Dragon, which should be ready in three years, should be able to do it. But really, if humanity is to become multi-planetary, the fundamental breakthrough that needs to occur in rocketry is a rapidly and completely reusable rocket. In the absence of that, space transportation will remain two orders of magnitude more expensive than it should be…
…I’d like to emphasize this is an aspiration for SpaceX—I’m not saying that we will do it. But I believe it can be done. And I believe that achieving it would be on a par with what the Wright brothers did. It’s the fundamental thing that’s necessary for humanity to become a space-faring civilization. America would never have been colonized if ships weren’t reusable.
By all means read the whole thing.
Coincidentally, here’s the recent hover flight of their Falcon 1-based “Grasshopper” booster.
H/T: Clark Lindsey at NewSpaceWatch