Ever dreamt of being a Martian? It’s a dream that’s no longer so far from reality, thanks to recent technological advances from Elon Musk’s private SpaceX program.
Although the most widely publicized, Richard Branson is far from the only billionaire privately pursuing space technology. South African American entrepreneur Elon Musk has set himself out on a mission of epic proportions. Not only does he want to make space travel more affordable, he’s also thinking on a much larger scale. Instead of just sending a handful of people soaring up out of the atmosphere, we’re talking about sending 80,000 into the big black beyond.
A billionaire with a vision
Admittedly, it might take the next fifteen to twenty years to develop the necessary technology, but Musk and his SpaceX program are dedicated to eventually creating a small colony on Mars. The knowledge and technology that will be required to mobilize 80,000 people on a cosmic scale may still be a ways off, but Musk and his team have already started planning the first steps. Initially, a ten-person crew will be sent to Mars to initiate the first steps in establishing a colony. No timeline has yet been offered detailing how long it will take for a sustainable workstation on the red planet, but it’s been made clear that the intention is to take tourists there for the ultimate vacation. In a recent speech given by Musk at the Royal Aeronautical Society that once the colony is established and largely self-sustaining, the need to constantly shuttle supplies back and forth should become less critical. This should open up opportunities for commercial flights, with an estimated ticket price of $500,000.
Although $500,000 may sound exorbitant, Musk believes that by the time the technology is ready, this will be a price that a good number of people in their mid-forties should be able to afford. He envisions Mars greenhouses feeding inhabitants, with occasional shipments of fertilizer from earth. Water will be sourced from subsurface ice deposits, oxygen will be extracted from the surrounding atmosphere, and huge domed areas will be pressurized to support human life.
One of the primary obstacles at the moment is the lack of a suitable transport vehicle for making trips to and from Mars. Much research will be necessary to establish how to grow plant life on the red planet, and more to learn how to harvest resources to maintain life. Musk is however, undoubtedly a driven man, and it just might be that you could be visiting friends in outer space within the next couple of decades.