Technology entrepreneur Elon Musk plans to get the first humans to land on Mars by 2025, and is really excited about the prospect of establishing a colony there. Pioneering a new planet isn’t going to be a walk in the park, he warns. Colonists will face harsh conditions, isolation, even death.
“It’s dangerous and probably people will die – and they’ll know that. And then they’ll pave the way, and ultimately it will be very safe to go to Mars, and it will be very comfortable. But that will be many years in the future,” Musk told the Washington Post detailing his Mission to Mars.
Musk’s SpaceX is making history under our very eyes. The company has been at the forefront of space transportation for quite some time now, designing and building the first re-usable deep space rocket, the Falcon 9 (you can read all about the project’s ups and downs here.)
Musk received official approval from NASA to sent US astronauts to the International Space Station (ISS) starting from 2017, and currently has an ongoing US$2.6bn contract with NASA to routinely transport cargo to and from the ISS.
But the entrepreneur’s real goal is Mars. SpaceX plans to send regular unmanned spacecraft missions to the red planet starting 2018 to gather data about descending and landing on Mars for human missions in the future. The missions will take place every two years when Mars’ and Earth’s orbits bring the planets to their closest points.
“Essentially what we’re saying is we’re establishing a cargo route to Mars. It’s a regular cargo route. You can count on it. It’s going to happen every 26 months. Like a train leaving the station,” he said.
“And if scientists around the world know that they can count on that, and it’s going to be inexpensive, relatively speaking compared to anything in the past, then they will plan accordingly and come up with a lot of great experiments.”
The missions will also test if these autonomous crafts are safe enough for humans, the first manned missions will take place in 2025. But even at their closest, the two planets are still separated by 140 million miles of empty space, and it will take months for the ships to make the journey.
Musk admits the journey will likely be “hard, risky, dangerous, difficult” for the first pioneers who leave Earth. He points out however that they will be no different to the British who chose to travel across the sea to colonize the Americas in the 1600s.
“Just as with the establishment of the English colonies, there are people who love that,” he concluded
“They want to be the pioneers.”
Enjoyed this article? Join 40,000+ subscribers to the ZME Science newsletter. Subscribe now!