Every great cause requires a few martyrs, they say. And no matter how one looks at it, the colonization of Mars is indeed a great cause.
Fourth rock from the Sun, and second smallest planet in the Solar System, Mars remains as hostile and inhospitable to human life as the bottom of the Atlantic. Featuring low gravity, an almost total lack of protection against solar radiation, and an unbreathable atmosphere consisting mostly of carbon dioxide, life on the Mars we know would be brief indeed.
Much has been written and postulated about whether or not the Red Planet will ever play host to human life. Even if mankind does set foot on the planet’s reddish and unforgiving surface, the challenges ahead would be great, and deadly.
Enter billionaire entrepeneur Elon Musk. Speaking at the 67th International Astronautical Congress in Guadalajara, Mexico, on Tuesday, Musk unveiled ambitious plans to not only ferry people to Mars, but actually colonise the planet.
Mr. Musk said he will strive to establish the first human settlement on Mars by the year 2022. Through his company, SpaceX, the entrepeneur plans to build a massive 400ft-tall booster rocket dubbed ‘Interplanetary Transport System’ (ITS), upon which would sit a spaceship transporting the wayward passengers. Propelled by rocket fuel made out of a mix of methane and oxygen, Lusk estimates that the flight time would be about 80 days. And you could go on the ‘cheap’, too. Lusk predicts he could eventually cut the cost of an average one-way ticket down to about $100k per person.
He did speak frankly about the unlikely survival of the first pioneers, however.
He said “I think the first journey to Mars is going to be very dangerous. It’d basically be, ‘Are you prepared to die?’”
‘If you are, OK, you’re a candidate for going. This is less about who goes first. … It’s about making a self-sustainable civilisation on Mars as fast as possible.”