November 27, 2012
SpaceX Founder Envisions Martian Colony In 20 Years
Lee Rannals for redOrbit.com - Your Universe Online
Tired of dealing with the frustrations of Earth? One entrepreneur may have a way out for you that involves a new life on the Red Planet.Elon Musk, founder and CEO of SpaceX, has announced plans to colonize Mars with 80,000 people within the next 20 years.
In his plans, Musk said it would start with a pioneering group of less than 10 people, who would be transported through a reusable rocket powered by liquid oxygen and methane.
He told the Royal Aeronautical Society in London last week that at Mars, people could start a self-sustaining civilization that could grow into something really big.
Musk laid out vivid details of his plans, including selling the one-way tickets to Mars for $500,000.
The first group of 10 would help to build the sustainable housing of transparent domes pressurized with CO2. The CO2 would allow the future Martians to grow crops.
"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," he told those attending the conference.
Passengers would be traveling with equipment to help build the sustainable housing on the barren planet for future generations.
Groundwork for the Martian home would begin with a focus on building transparent domes pressurized with CO2, while possibly covered in a layer of water to serve as protection from the Sun.
Additional trips to the Red Planet would bring equipment that could help to produce fertilizer, methane and oxygen using the atmosphere's natural elements of nitrogen and carbon dioxide.
SpaceX would help to design a reusable vertical landing rocket to transport equipment and people, a step Musk calls "pivotal" in "achieving a colony on Mars."
The company is working on a prototype called Grasshopper, which has already made two short flights. SpaceX is planning to increase the altitude and speed of the vertical take-off and landing prototype in the next few months.
In all, the total cost of bringing the 80,000 Martians to their new home, along with all the equipment cost, will be about $36 billion, according to Musk. He has calculated both private profits, along with government aid and about .25 or .05 percent of a nation's gross domestic product.
While Musk dreams up big plans for the future of SpaceX, the company is still performing in the moment as well. SpaceX's Dragon capsule made its first official resupply trip to the International Space Station back in October, after making its first successful docking trip to the orbiting laboratory back in May.
NASA has a $1.6 billion contract with SpaceX, which includes a minimum of 12 flights with an option to order additional missions.