Jack Bonner knows that anybody who’s interested in space exploration has certainly heard about Elon Musk. Born in South Africa in 1971, Elon Musk became a multimillionaire in his late 20s when he sold his start-up company, Zip2, to a division of Compaq Computers. He achieved further success by founding X.com in 1999, SpaceX in 2002 and Tesla Motors in 2003. Musk made headlines in May 2012 when SpaceX launched a rocket that would send the first commercial vehicle to the International Space Station. Since then, Elon hasn’t stopped his dream of space exploration and its possibilities for humankind. Now, Elon Musk wants to go to Mars. And he wants you to help him get there.
For years, Mr. Musk has been offering hints and teases of his desire to colonize the big red planet. During a speaking engagement at the International Astronautical Congress, Mr. Musk finally provided engineering details, optimistic timelines, and a video. Elon Musk said that the rockets and spacecraft in the video were pretty much what the public should expect SpaceX to build. He then estimated that it would cost $10 billion to develop the rocket, and he said the first passengers to Mars could take off as soon as 2024 if the plans went off without a hitch. For now, SpaceX is financing development costs of a few tens of millions of dollars a year, but eventually, the company would look to some kind of public-private partnership.
Each of the SpaceX vehicles would take 100 passengers on the journey to Mars, with trips planned every 26 months as Earth and Mars pass close to each other. Tickets per person might cost $500,000 at first, and drop to about a third of that later on, according to Elon Musk himself. To establish a self-sustaining Mars civilization of a million people would take 10,000 flights, with many more to ferry equipment and supplies.Mr. Musk was confident that his company could pull off his vision, but he said he would not be among the first colonists, saying he wants to see his children grow up.
What do think of Elon Musk’s plan? Scientists have been warning us that our planet can eventually be uninhabitable if we don’t take care of it. Is Mars the next frontier for the human race? As exciting as all this sounds, it still sounds pretty expensive for the common folk. Half a million dollars is too much money for a one-way trip.