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Billionaire entrepreneur and CEO of SpaceX, Elon Musk, has his sights firmly set on Mars. Yes you read that correctly. After the very successful venture with NASA ferrying International Space Station equipment on his company’s Dragon spacecraft, Musk has futuristic plans to colonise Mars.
“At Mars, you can start a self-sustaining civilization and grow it into something really big,” Musk said after receiving an award from the RaeS for his contributions to private spaceflight. Musk envisages a self-sufficient human settlement starting from small, with “large amounts of equipment, including machines to produce fertilizer, methane, and oxygen from Mars’s atmospheric nitrogen and carbon dioxide and the planet’s subsurface water ice”, as reported by Space.com.
Colonists of Mars would be similar to the pioneers and explorers of old, taking building equipment along to build transparent domes pressurized with CO2 from Mars’s atmosphere to grow crops and plants from Earth, thus sustaining residents. When asked by Space.com how he intends to transport humans to Mars, Musk replied that at first they would not be using “re-cyclers”, spacecraft that could be used again. “The thing with the cyclers is, you need a lot of them,” Musk said. “You have to have propellant to keep things aligned as [Mars and Earth’s] orbits aren’t [always] in the same plane. In the beginning you won’t have cyclers.”
Then there is cost. Want a ticket? US$500 000 will get you a seat on the trip to Mars, bringing back memories of Total Recall. “Once there are regular Mars flights, you can get the cost down to half a million dollars for someone to move to Mars,” Musk also said.