Elon Musk Wants To Set Up Space Colonies On Mars

Posted Nov 23, 2012

Elon Musk is the co-founder of PayPal, Tesla Motors, and SpaceX.  Mr. Musk is also the chairman of SolarCity.  Recently he was interviewed about colonizing Mars.  He would be interested in ferrying explorers to Mars for around $500,000 per trip.  The initial trip would started with a group of less than 10 people.  These 10 people would journey to the planet with a reusable rocket powered by liquid oxygen and methane.

“At Mars, you can start a self-sustaining civilization and grow it into something really big,” stated Musk in front of an audience at the Royal Aeronautical Society in London on Friday November 16.  At the conference, Mr. Musk was there to talk about his business plans and to receive a gold medal for his contributions to space.

The future Mars residents would take equipment with them including machines to produce fertilizer, methane and oxygen from Mars’ atmospheric nitrogen and carbon dioxide, and the planet’s subsurface water ice.  They would also take construction materials with them to build transparent domes, which could grow crops from Earth.

Mr. Musk believes that the $500,000 price is affordable.  “The ticket price needs to be low enough that most people in advanced countries, in their mid-forties or something like that, could put together enough money to make the trip,” stated Mr. Musk.  He compared to the purchase to buying a house in California.

Mr. Musk believes that out of the 8 billion humans that will be living on Earth by the time the colony is possible, around 1 in 100,000 would be prepared to go.  This equates to around 80,000 potential migrants.  Mr. Musk wants the colony program to be a collaboration between government and private enterprise.  It would end up costing around $36 billion.

“Some money has to be spent on establishing a base on Mars. It?s about getting the basic fundamentals in place,” stated Mr. Musk. “That was true of the English colonies [in the Americas]; it took a significant expense to get things started. But once there are regular Mars flights, you can get the cost down to half a million dollars for someone to move to Mars. Then I think there are enough people who would buy that to have it be a reasonable business case.”