Elon Musk is giving us a sneak peak of what he'll be talking about in just a few hours at the International Astronautical Congress in Australia. The SpaceX founder shared an image he captioned "Moon Base Alpha" on Instagram today, featuring a computer rendered image of the proposed moon base, which he called for originally during a talk at the International Space Station Research and Development conference in Washington back in July. The prolific entrepreneur also shared a concept render of a so-called "Mars City."
Musk said at the time that a moon base would really help get the public fired up about exploration and colonization further out in the solar system, including on Mars. He also tweeted late in August in response to a story about astronaut Chris Hadfield saying we should work on a moon encampment prior to a trip to Mars that "Moon base alpha" name – a reference to a 1970s sci-fi TV series.
It now seems likely that Musk's talk at the IAC will include plans for a moon base prior to a Mars colony. This would actually be in line with some of the plans NASA and other space agencies have discussed regarding deeper space exploration, which involve a "deep space gateway" orbital station somewhere in the environs of our moon.
Musk also shared and image of "Mars City," likely visualizing what the planned facility on the surrface of the Red Planet could look like. The image depicts a number of vertical rockets, along with a geodesic dome and some tiny astronauts and a rover for scale. Musk notes that sky coloring is the opposite of Earth when it comes to the day/night cycle.
Last year, Musk detailed SpaceX's current Mars mission plans at IAC, and the CEO has promised to give us an update on progress for those plans today. We'll have full details live from the IAC presentation later tonight, once it gets started at 12:30 AM ET (9:30 PM P). You can also tune in to the live stream below: