Today in Mexico, all eyes were on Elon Musk as he gave a keynote speech at the International Astronautical Conference. Musk said that he was going to detail SpaceX's plans to colonize Mars and make us an interplanetary species.
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He began by saying that their goal is to “make Mars seem possible, make it seem as though it’s something we can do in our lifetimes, and that you can go … that anyone can go if they wanted to.”
The reason to go to Mars is that we face two paths as humans: One is to stay on Earth forever and eventually face extinction. The other is to become a multi-planetary species, “which I hope you would agree that is the right way to go,” Musk said wryly.
The goal would be to create a self-sustaining city that “can become a planet in its own right.” Mars is the perfect place for that because it has a lot of what we need to sustain life and its calendar is similar to ours. Musk also pointed out that less gravity means we could "bound" around.
The problem, of course, is that it would be increasingly expensive to get there. The goal is to get that number down from $10 billion per person on the current model to $200,000 per person, which Musk believes to be achievable.
The key there will be the reusability of ships and vehicles. We have to find ways to keep the tools and vehicles in shape so that everything is cost effective. Watch the video of the announcement to get a more in-depth look at what the plan is for the ships as well as the fuel used.
Musk's target is to get 1 million people on the Mars colony, which would take 10,000 trips. He said that TeslaX “might end up expanding the crew section and bring 200 or more per flight," to lower costs. “Ultimately, you want 1,000 ships,” he said.
Of course, the first few flights could be expensive.
Funding is something that is a little harder for the method. Musk says that there are many who are interested in funding the project, including some help from the government.
He believes the project will be a success and will send the US and cooperating nations into the future. “Just making the most progress we can with the resources we have available,” according to Musk, and to keep moving forward.
He added that he thinks interest will grow as more and more is finished.
As for if there is a timeline, Musk cracked that while he’s “not the best at this sort of thing,” and SpaceX is being “intentionally fuzzy about this timeline."
While Mars is the goal, there is no doubt that they are already looking further.
You could, theoretically, “make flights from Mars to Jupiter no problem,” Musk noted by establishing propellant depots that can help you refuel on Jupiter and Saturn’s moons, or even further out on Pluto. “This system actually gives you freedom to go anywhere you want in the greater solar system,” he said.
“I probably will name the first ship that goes to Mars Heart of Gold,” Musk said, referencing the ship from Hitchhiker’s Guide To The Galaxy. “I like that it’s driven by infinite improbability because our ship is also infinitely improbable”