Elon Musk's Plans for Sending 1 Million People to Mars for $500,000 Each.

Monday, 21 September 2015 - 5:59AM
Technology
Mars
Alien Life
Monday, 21 September 2015 - 5:59AM
Elon Musk's Plans for Sending 1 Million People to Mars for $500,000 Each.
Elon Musk has long been a vocal proponent for the quest to send humans to Mars, regularly suggesting that humanity must become interplanetary if it is to survive. In the past, Musk has claimed that the human race has the potential to evolve to an almost god-like level, but has also argued that if we limit ourselves to just one planetary realm, we may not survive long enough to reach our potential.

Opening quote
At our current rate of technological growth, humanity is on a path to be godlike in its capabilities,' Musk told Aeon.co. "You could bicycle to Alpha Centauri in a few hundred thousand years, and that's nothing on an evolutionary scale. If an advanced civilisation existed at any place in this galaxy, at any point in the past 13.8 billion years, why isn't it everywhere? Even if it moved slowly, it would only need something like .01 per cent of the Universe's lifespan to be everywhere. So why isn't it?
Closing quote

Musk went on to argue that our lack of contact with alien lifeforms could be down to any number of reasons, none of which suggest that intelligent lifeforms have simply never existed within our Universe. Instead, Musk suggests that our isolation is evidence that we are, in fact, living in some form of simulation. But if that's too 'out there' for you, he's also got another theory, suggesting that we could be part of an experiment being run by an even more advanced alien race looking to observe evolutionary behaviours, much the way a human zoo keeper studies the learning abilities of a Gorilla, or as Musk more-depressingly puts it, as a lab scientist would observe mold in a petri dish.

Opening quote
The absence of any noticeable life may be an argument in favour of us being in a simulation. Like when you're playing an adventure game, and you can see the stars in the background, but you can't ever get there. If it's not a simulation, then maybe we're in a lab and there's some advanced alien civilisation that's just watching how we develop, out of curiosity, like mold in a petri dish.
Closing quote


Musk believes that sending humans to Mars is simply humanity's next 'great migration', but he also warns that at current cost levels, space exploration is simply not sustainable. The SpaceX founder has, quite rightly, won much praise for his quest to lower the cost of orbital launch systems and he revealed that he's not just looking to save NASA money, but also make any potential migration more affordable for the masses. This isn't through some form of misguided benevolence though, it's out of necessity for the survival of our species.

Opening quote
There needs to be an intersection of the set of people who wish to go, and the set of people who can afford to go,' he said. 'And that intersection of sets has to be enough to establish a self-sustaining civilisation. My rough guess is that for a half-million dollars, there are enough people that could afford to go and would want to go. But it's not going to be a vacation jaunt. It's going to be saving up all your money and selling all your stuff, like when people moved to the early American colonies.
Closing quote

Musk makes a good point. There's ample desire among the masses when it comes to the prospect of packing up and starting a new life on the Red Planet, just ask the 200,000+ applicants to the admittedly flawed Mars One project. And, while $500,000 might seem like a staggering amount of money, when you consider you won't be needing any of your Earthly assets in your future life on Mars, it starts to look more achievable for many. That more accessible access to an interplanetary migration is going to be key, because Musk believes any Martian colony would need at least 1 million people if it was to operate successfully.

Opening quote
Even at a million, you're really assuming an incredible amount of productivity per person, because you would need to recreate the entire industrial base on Mars,' he said. 'You would need to mine and refine all of these different materials, in a much more difficult environment than Earth. There would be no trees growing. There would be no oxygen or nitrogen that are just there. No oil.
Closing quote


Musk sees this vast migration methodology as key to the success of making humanity a multi-planetary civilization. Smaller colonization projects would limit the gene pool of the colony and struggle to sustain create the numbers needed to carry out all the operations that would be necessary for a Martian colony to survive.

Carrying such a huge number of people to a planet that, at current capabilities, lies around 9 months away would require a remarkable number of trips. Musk has already started thinking about that, and although he hasn't quite gotten around to designing the "giant spaceship" he thinks would be needed for the creation of such a colony, he's well on the way to a solution for the cost issues. Since outlining these plans last year and observing that "Rockets are the only form of transportation on Earth where the vehicle is built anew for each journey", Musk has seen the continuing development of SpaceX's Falcon Heavy rocket, which will eventually be able to return to Earth after carrying humans and cargo into space. This, Musk believes, will make the viability of regular shuttle runs to another planet all the more realistic.



But SpaceX's plans don't end there. Just last week the company unveiled concept artwork for their Dragon Capsule, which while hitching a ride on a Falcon Heavy Rocket, could eventually transport humans and cargo to another planet. Test flights of this Dragon capsule have already begun, and Musk's SpaceX team are confident that they can be sampling Martian soil by the year 2020.


As for when we'll have humans setting foot on the Red Planet, Musk recently made this bullish claim:

Opening quote
I think we've got a decent shot of sending a person to Mars in about 11 or 12 years.
Closing quote


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