Elon Musk has been a mainstay of news cycles throughout the past twelve months. The outspoken entrepreneur made headlines again in late November 2018 with a rather curious statement – he plans to move to Mars.
On 26 November humanity’s fourteenth mission to the surface of Mars – NASA’s InSight Lander – touched down on the red planet.
The day before InSight landed Musk stated that there was a 70 percent chance that he would move to Mars himself.
SpaceX, one of the several companies Musk operates, is planning to run crewed missions to Mars in just six years’ time.
Their ultimate goal is to colonise Mars.
Both the destination and the trip itself would be fraught with hazards, which Musk is upfront about.
‘It’s gonna be hard. There’s a good chance of death, going in a little can through deep space,’ said Musk, adding that ‘Your probability of dying on Mars is much higher than Earth.’
Musk also plans to sell tickets to Mars for several hundred thousand US dollars.
However, in his view the danger involved in such a journey and mission puts to bed the worry that Mars could be used as an escape plan for Earth’s rich and powerful.
‘Really the ad for going to Mars would be like Shackleton’s ad for going to the Antarctic,’ he said, referencing a popular myth about an advert supposedly taken out by the Antarctic explorer Sir Ernest Shackleton.
The fictional advert reads: ‘Men wanted for Hazardous Journey. Small wages, bitter cold, long months of complete darkness, constant danger, safe return doubtful. Honour and recognition in case of success.’
An advert for a trip to Mars in a similar vein might not have many takers, especially when they see the price.
No Time for Leisure
Musk is upfront about the dangers and difficulties. Even if you survive the journey, you are going to have to work tirelessly once you arrive.
There is no base on Mars. There is no infrastructure. Everything would have to be built from the ground up.
As Musk points out, ‘So, you know, not much time for leisure. And even after doing all this, it’s a very harsh environment. So . . . there’s a good chance you die there.’
There is also a distinct possibility that the trip could be one way. Musk is candid when he says, ‘We think you can come back but we’re not sure.’
Despite the multitude of risks and chance of never returning to Earth, Musk seems unwavering in his will to go to Mars.
‘There’s lots of people who climb mountains. People die on Mount Everest all the time. They like doing it for the challenge,’ said the entrepreneur.
Whether Elon Musk ends up making the trip to Mars himself is anybody’s guess.
No one could begrudge him choosing not to give up a billionaire lifestyle on Earth for the hardships and dangers of planetary colonisation.
But no one can deny that he is certainly a major force behind a new and more vigorous drive towards sending humans to other planets.