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Elon Musk shared his interplanetary fantasy but his real message is down to earth!
It’s a bit tricky. ~ Elon Musk considers the difficulty of improving the cost of traveling
to Mars by 5 million percent!
Elon Musk wowed them at the International Astronautical Congress in Mexico on Tuesday, offering up an alternative to hanging around on Earth waiting for a doomsday event. Using the analogy of the first pioneers to travel to California, Musk sold Mars on its proximity, similarity to Earth and relatively low gravitational force that will make it easier to lift heavy objects, jump over puddles and quickly lose weight.
Venus sounds like a better, more goddess-like planet for human settlement, but it’s a high-pressure, acidic environment (a lot like the work environment inside Space-X and Tesla). Mercury is too close to the sun, and the moon has no atmosphere, few natural resources and its day is 28 Earth days long. Living on the moon would be like being confined to a interplanetary Holiday Inn.
Using moon landings as a model, Musk estimates it would currently cost about $10 billion to travel to Mars (and that doesn’t include baggage fees). He wants to bring the price of a ticket to Mars down to $200,000 with reusable spaceships that can be refilled while in orbit with a rocket booster. Space-X has determined that the best propellant for travel to Mars is methane. This may or may not involve harvesting the propellants of thousands of cows, corralling those bovine methane generators and taking them to Mars.
10,000 missions of 100 passengers will bring the total number of Mars colonists to Musk’s goal of one million, a project that will take between forty and one hundred years depending on the number of people who decide that Mars is too much of a fixer-upper planet and demand a return flight to Earth. The journey to and from Mars could take 80 days, so the in-flight entertainment had better be good. The passenger cabin will be set up for zero-gravity games, interplanetary chill music, restaurants and The Martianplaying on a double-feature loop with Iron Man in the in-flight theatre.
It has to be really fun and exciting, and can’t feel cramped or boring. ~ Elon Musk assures us that three months on his spaceship will be better than flying economy from San Francisco to Dallas.
The first development spaceship will be ready in about four years. It won’t be ready for Mars but can theoretically be used to do very high-speed cargo delivery on Earth. Space-X Pizza can be delivered anywhere in the world in 45 minutes or less or it’s free.
The Mars-bound spaceship will be huge (its SpaceX codename is BFR–big f*cking rocket) and its journey will look very much like this…
Super-long-range forecasts predict a sunny day on the dunes of Mars when the first spaceship lands and the cabin door opens.
It’s easy to have fun with Musk’s 34-million-mile-out-there plans and their lack of specificity about what a day in the life on Mars will look and feel like (apparently it’s a bit cold), but it’s hard not to be seduced by such untethered audacity mixed with down-to-earth calculations of propellant mass. Musk has pledged his entire personal fortune on his dream of making humans an interplanetary species.
During the bizarre ‘Q&A’ that followed his keynote, someone offered to give Musk a comic book, a woman offered to give him a kiss (a thank you for the man from Mars on behalf of all women from Venus) and someone asked him what would happen to interplanetary feces. Elon Musk kindles the kind of unhinged adulation that CEOs like Wells Fargo’s John Stumpf can only dream of amidst his Elizabethan nightmares.
Part of Musk’s appeal lies in his sci-fi approach to business, but of all his talk about self-sustaining societies and interplanetary travel, there was a moment during his speech when he talked about what motivates him that was far more uplifting than any SpaceX rocket.
It would be an incredible adventure. It would be the most inspiring thing that I could possibly imagine. Life needs to be more than solving problems every day. You need to wake up every day and be excited about the future, and be inspired, and want to live. ~ Elon Musk
Musk knows his interplanetary dream is an infinite improbability, but that doesn’t stop him from betting everything he has on it. He encourages all of us to imagine our version of an incredible adventure, the most inspiring thing we could possibly imagine, and let it fuel our desire to live.