Elon Musk wants to go to Mars, and he’s made no secret of this ambition. What hasn’t been clear, though, amid the challenges and victories of SpaceX, his private spaceflight company, is how, precisely, his team plans to get to Mars and what will happen when they get there. Now, he’s made it clear, with a goal to make Mars trips “possible in our lifetimes,” and there’s both fascinating points and a few concerns embedded in his pitch.
Musk believes one of two things will happen: A massive apocalypse, or becoming an interplanetary species. Obviously, he’s rooting for the second scenario. But how to achieve it?
The first question is “why Mars?” when there are other candidates like Venus? The short answer is that Mars is the most habitable places in our inhospitable universe. Venus will require airships, Jupiter’s moons are more distant from the sun, and the Moon lacks the resources and the timing. Mars, in Musk’s view, will be the easiest to scale up into an actual civilization. Mars, of course, is fairly similar to Earth, and it’s believed that Mars was once very Earth-like. Of course, the challenges of terraforming Mars are substantial.
Musk doesn’t really address some of the greater challenges, like thickening Mars’ atmosphere or intensifying its magnetic field, both of which are tricky. Instead Musk focused on the economics. He points out that even getting to Mars in the first place costs $10 billion per person, and the idea is to lower the cost of going to Mars to cost as much as buying a house. Hence, the SpaceX mission.
How To Get To Mars
This morning, SpaceX posted a video that lays out the rough details of how it’ll work.