Road to Mars is long and treacherous but with the likes of SpaceX CEO Elon Musk deciding that it’s time to make the interplanetary jump, the road to Mars has become well-lit.
Musk has unveiled plans to colonise Mars and sending humans to the planet as early as 2024 – as many as 100 if possible at the cost of just $100,000 per person. Speaking at the 67th International Astronautical Congress in Guadalajara, Mexico, wherein he laid out the plans that he has for sending humans to Mars and how these first humans will be terraforming the planet for future arrivals. He showed to the attendees and reporters his vision for a giant rocket that would propel people to the Red Planet “in our lifetime.”
Musk showed to the crowd a futuristic video [embedded below] depicting the concept that he and SpaceX has developed for an interplanetary transport system based on reusable rockets, a propellant farm on Mars and 1,000 spaceships on orbit, carrying about 100 people each.
According to Musk’s vision, the spacecrafts that will carry humans to Mars won’t be those cramped or boring vehicles, but instead will be rather spacious spacecrafts that will not only have enough room for humans, but will also have a restaurant, cabins, zero-gravity games and movies. Musk is optimistic that based on the plans he has conceived, it is not impossible to have the first humans fly out to Mars early as 2024 and land on the Red Planet the next year i.e. 2025.
One of the reasons why Musk wants to send humans to Mars is to have a way for our species to ensure a future against a possible mass extinction event. Musk intends to build spacecrafts carrying 100 passengers each and at a cost that is much less than billions that are spent on each flight to Mars – as low as $200,000 per ticket to a much lower $100,000 over time.
“What I really want to try to achieve here is to make Mars seem possible,” Musk said. “One path is we stay on Earth forever, and there will be some eventual extinction event. … The alternative is to become a space-faring civilization and a multiplanet species.”
The spacecraft — which may be called “Heart of Gold,” in a nod to the science fiction book “The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy” — will be refueled in orbit before heading to the Red Planet. The trip could take 80 to 130 days, depending on the positions of Earth and Mars at the time. Factories would be built on Mars to produce fuel for the return trip home.
“The goal of SpaceX really is to build the transport system,” Musk said, drawing a comparison to the first transcontinental railroad in the U.S.
While the plan to reach Mars in such a short time is awesome and phenomenal, there is always a question of who will be the first few who will land on the Red Planet. Musk doesn’t have an answer to that yet, but he knows at least one of the attributes of such humans who are intending to signup for the trip – guts to risk death.
“I think the first trips to Mars are going to be really, very dangerous. The risk of fatality will be high. There is just no way around it,” he said. “It would basically be, ‘Are you prepared to die?’ Then if that’s ok, then you are a candidate for going.”