Ever since the astronauts set foot on the moon in 1969, people have wondered if we could also travel to Mars. If Elon Musk has his way, he would like to colonize Mars within the next twenty years, with dreams of the colony reaching 80,000. If it were possible to make this dream a reality, how much would it cost?
Who is Elon Musk and why does he think he can get humankind to Mars?
Elon Musk has accomplished quite a bit in his 41 years. A native of South Africa, Musk is the co-founder of Tesla Motors, which designs and builds electric vehicles. He also began PayPal, arguably the most well-known internet payment systems. However, most people will recognize him as the founder of SpaceX.
SpaceX began in 2002 and has the goal of making it possible for people to travel to and inhabit other planets. The company has already begun designing and manufacturing their own rockets. In fact, their Dragon spacecraft launched in May 2012 traveled to the International Space Station and returned safely to Earth. The Dragon spacecraft repeated this feat in October 2012; this time, however, they were carrying official National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) payload to resupply the space station. Previously, governments only accomplished this.
The company won a $440 million agreement to continue developing the Dragon spacecraft to transport people into space. It is with the knowledge gains through this partnership with NASA that SpaceX is moving forward with their plans to colonize Mars. Obviously, it would not be possible to take 80,000 people to Mars right away. A smaller settlement would be required to build a habitable base for future colonists.
Musk expects the one-way tickets to Mars would cost $500,000 USD. Musk estimates the entire project at a cost of $36 billion and hopes to receive government funding of 0.25 or 0.05 percent of the nation’s gross domestic product to aid in building this Martian colony.
Along with traveling to the ‘red planet,’ all colonists would be expected to work. They would take equipment to build housing and to transform the planet to one that would be self-sustaining. Housing would include transparent domes, pressurized with carbon dioxide, which would make it possible to grow crops for food on the planet rather than having to send food to the colonists on a continual basis.
SpaceX is not the only group discussing colonizing Earth’s closest neighbor. In fact, NASA’s Hundred Year Starship project is also under development and trying to raise funds. Mars One, a Dutch company, also hopes to begin colonizing Mars 2023. It appears, with at least three major pushes to colonize the planet, it might be good to start saving for the $500,000 one-way ticket now.
Quotes and thoughts on colonization on Mars and other planets:
“We are all tired of being stuck on this cosmical speck with its monotonous ocean, leaden sky, and single moon that is half useless. Its possibilities are exhausted, and just as Greece became too small for the civilization of the Greeks, so it seems to me that the future glory of the human race lies in the exploration of at least the solar system!” ~ John Jacob Astor, Journey in Other Worlds: A Romance of the Future.
“To our knowledge, life exists on only one planet, Earth. If something bad happens, it’s gone. I think we should establish life on another planet—Mars in particular—but we’re not making very good progress. SpaceX is intended to make that happen.” ~ Elon Musk of SpaceX
“In time, [a Martian] colony would grow to the point of being self- sustaining. When this stage was reached, humanity would have a precious insurance policy against catastrophe at home. During the next millennium there is a significant chance that civilization on Earth will be destroyed by an asteroid, a killer plague or a global war. A Martian colony could keep the flame of civilization and culture alive until Earth could be reverse-colonized from Mars.” ~ Paul Davies, ASU physicist, cosmologist and astrobiologist.
Helpful links and references
SpaceX designs, manufactures, and launches advanced rockets and spacecraft. The company was founded in 2002 to revolutionize space technology, with the ultimate goal of enabling people to live on other planets.
- Colonization of Mars – Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
- Mission – Mars One
- Space Quotations: Colonization of Space quotes
Eyes Turned Skyward: Colonization of Space quotes