Back in October of 2016, I think I can say that my life changed. A dude playing a bit of Kerbal Space Program and sharing it on YouTube was where it started. A hobby. A waste of time is what most people would have thought. How wrong that turned out to be. It is nice I think to remember back at some of those parts in life where something significant changed. Where your life was thrown into a new direction out of the blue.
Up until SpaceX Founder, CEO, and Lead Designer Elon Musk talked about the long-term technical challenges that needed to be solved to support the creation of a permanent, self-sustaining human presence on Mars, I didn't have a real goal for the YouTube channel I had started. But once that dream, focusing in on potential architectures for sustaining humans on the Red Planet was made public, I was hooked (crazy or not).
I remember just wanting to simulate this fantastic ITS (in 2016 Starship was called the Interplanetary Transport System which I still prefer by the way). Words cannot express how much I idealised Elons vision and ambition. I saw him as by far one of the greatest minds. Once that inspired so many of us. A future that was not all doom and gloom. Yes please! Is Elon perfect. No. None of us are. We all do and say silly things, especially under pressure. To a degree, I can't excuse some of the tweets and opinions out from the past. But in terms of his scientific goals and dreams, I believe he is one of the most important people in current times. You can't help create trillion dollar companies without some amazing vision. Tesla of course one other truly amazing story from the past decade.
Anyway, I digress. In 2016, I was watching the development of SpaceX's Falcon 9 and this announcement of the ITS blew my mind. I rapidly put a flight profile with matching thrust, mass and fuel ratios just to see what it could do. As a first step I wanted to build a demo part for the Raptor engines and then configure the clusters and use them to boost a vessel to orbit with the similar specifications to that presented by Elon. Not with a stock install though, no... with the Realism Overhaul and RSS mods installed. I wanted to see how it would go getting to orbit around Earth as well as attempting the infamous boostback burn and landing.
Yes... I know that the build looks a bit... well... phallic. This wasn't intentional.
With my horrible microphone at the time (I basically needed to shout into the rubbish thing), I simulated a launch to orbit. The video was well received by the 1,500 or so subscribers I had at the time. But then... my life changed. I think this was the tipping point for me.
Elon musk retweeted my video on Twitter!
Let me just say that my mind was blown. No more did I think of myself as a nobody playing around as a hobby. We took it to the next lever creating more videos on the ITS with my friend Mark Thrimm and the subscriber base grew as we explored this topic.
WARNING: These are very hard to watch. The quality was awful. The microphone, a total POS! It is hard to watch, but if you must... here are the links.
SpaceX Interplanetary Transport System (ITS) Launch Test - Kerbal Space Program (KSP) 1.1.3 RO/RSS (Tweeted by Elon)
PART 1 - SpaceX Mars Colonization https://youtu.be/DZN2JdAjXLQ
PART 2 - SpaceX Mars Colonization https://youtu.be/CwGS77ZSlT8
PART 3 - SpaceX Mars Colonization https://youtu.be/cHqRuB87nLA
PART 4 - SpaceX Mars Colonization https://youtu.be/IOCwnEvMzMo