Elon Musk Envisions Men On Mars Within 10 Years
Brett Smith for redOrbit.com – Your Universe Online
“I’m hopeful that the first people could be taken to Mars in 10 to 12 years, I think it’s certainly possible for that to occur,” Musk told CNBC in a recent interview. “But the thing that matters long term is to have a self-sustaining city on Mars, to make life multiplanetary.”
Musk called the possibility of having humans living on Mars a fundamental shift in the history of human civilization.
“We’ll either be a multi-planet species – and out there among the stars – or we’ll be a single-planet species until some eventual extinction event, either natural or man-made,” he said.
Simply getting a manned mission to Mars would be a monumental event – not just for man, but for a private company just 12 years old. Since 2002, SpaceX has designed, built, and launched spacecrafts and rockets into low-Earth orbit. More recently, the company has been using its Dragon spacecraft to deliver cargo to the International Space Station. The company also has plans to bring astronauts to the ISS in the near future using the new Dragon V2 craft, which was unveiled last month.
However, plans to use the Dragon V2 as a vehicle for ISS-bound astronauts could be dashed if NASA decides to go with a different craft from one of the company’s competitors, such as Boeing.
“It’s possible that we may not win the commercial crew contract. … We’ll do our best to continue on our own, with our own money,” Musk said. “We would not be where we are today without the help of NASA.”
During the CNBC interview, Musk also addressed the possibility of attracting hedge fund managers to help fund a Mars mission or any other of Space X’s ambitions.
“We need to get where things a steady and predictable,” Musk said in reference to a Mars mission. “Maybe we’re close to developing the Mars vehicle, or ideally we’ve flown it a few times, then I think going public would make more sense.”
The Space X founder also discussed the latest development with his other high-profile company – the electric car maker Tesla Motors.
Half-joking that going to Mars would be easier than creating an electric car battery that costs less than $5,000, Musk said he is upbeat about building an electric car for a mainstream consumer.
“I am feeling really good about being able to produce a compelling mass-market car in about three years,” said Musk. He noted that regular meetings with his partner in a planned battery “Gigafactory,” Panasonic, have given him confidence in reaching that goal.
To build a more affordable battery, Tesla is currently launching a multi-state campaign to determine where it will build its next manufacturing plant. Musk said the campaign is about his company’s timeline concerns – not generating conflict among potential suitors.
“A lot of people think we’re trying to put the screws to the states,” he said. “That’s not our goal.”