SpaceX chief Elon Musk has unveiled his most ambitious project yet – an ‘interplanetary transport system’ to take man to Mars in 80 days and build a sustainable human colony of a million people there.
‘What I want to achieve is make Mars seem possible, to show that we can do it in our lifetimes, and you could go,’ he said at the International Astronautical Congress in Mexico.
However, he warned the trip was likely to be dangerous – and said candidates for the first missions ‘must be prepared to die’.
‘I think the first journeys to Mars will be really very dangerous,’ said Musk.
‘The risk of fatality will be high. There’s just no way around it.’
‘Are you prepared to die? If that’s okay, then you’re a candidate for going,’ he added.
He also said he wouldn’t be vying to be the first man on Mars.
‘The risk of death would be quite high, and I’d like to watch my kids grow up.’
He admitted he would take the trip – one day.
‘I’d definitely like to go to orbit, visit the space station and ultimately go to Mars,’ he said.
‘I’d need to make sure if something goes wrong there’s a succession plan in place – investors taking over the company would be my biggest fear.’
‘This is less about who goes there first.
‘The thing that really matters is making a self-sustaining civilization on Mars as fast as possible. This is different than Apollo.
‘This is really about minimizing existential risk and having a tremendous sense of adventure,’ he said.
Musk outlined plans for a fleet of large ‘megashuttles’ that would take 100 people at a time to Mars for $200,000 a trip, after warning ‘eventually history suggest there will be some extinction event on Earth’.
‘One path is we stay on earth forever and there will be some eventual extinction event. I don’t have a doomsday prophesy,’ he said.
The other is to become a spacefaring and mutiplanetary species, which I think some would say is the right way to go – that’s what we want.’
He hopes to set up a self sustaining city on the red planet with a million people.