Visionary SpaceX founder Elon Musk yesterday (September 27th) laid out his plans for a self-sustaining colony of people on Mars, which he believes could be established within 50 to 150 years. Speaking at an astronautical gathering in Mexico, Musk said of his goal: “I think Earth will be a good place for a long time, but the probable lifespan of human civilization will be much greater if we’re a multiplanetary species.” Musk said that SpaceX, which for now is focused on satellite deliveries and space station cargo runs for NASA, and a future crew capsule for astronauts, has also already begun working on what he called the Mars Colonial fleet with testing of a powerful new rocket engine. The plans are to create a spaceship big enough to carry 100 to 200 people on the months-long trip to Mars, with an eventual settlement of about one million people. Colonists would be able to return to Earth, either for visits or permanently, with spaceships to return regularly. Musk acknowledged that the whole thing would be dangerous, at least for the first few trips, saying, “It would be basically, are you prepared to die? If that’s okay, then you’re a candidate for going.” Musk said he wants to get the price low enough so that most anyone could go, with a ticket costing no more than a house on Earth.

  • Do you think it’s reality that a self-sustaining Mars colony could be established in the next 50 to 150 years?
  • With our currently technology, does the idea still seem more like science fiction than science fact?
  • While traveling to Mars would be an amazing adventure, is there really a need to live there?
  • If this were to exist in your lifetime, would it be something you’d consider doing? What if it was a later, less-dangerous trip when a colony had already been established?
  • Do you think adventurous people would be more likely to attempt it knowing that it wouldn’t be a one-way trip, with spaceships making regular trips back and forth to Earth?


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