Tired Of Earth? Elon Musk Unveils Plans To Colonize Mars

Although the verdict is still out (there somewhere) on whether or not there is life on Mars, there soon could be Earthlings on the planet. At least that’s the latest plan from Tesla CEO Elon Musk, who today unveiled the latest project for his SpaceX venture.

In a speech this afternoon at the International Astronautical Congress, Musk says human colonization of other planets is “something we can do in our lifetimes.”

Of course, Musk hasn’t actually hidden his desire to send Earthlings to Mars. In fact, he announced earlier this year that it was his plan all along for SpaceX. Musk said eventually the expedition could include more than one million humans and the creation of a self-sustaining city on the Red Planet.

Tuesday’s speech detailed just how Musk, SpaceX, and unnamed government, industry, and tech partners — who would help split the billion-dollar bill for the endeavor — could one day make the planet-to-planet travel and colonization a reality.

First up, Musk says he and the future partners will have to tackle the high cost of such a trip, estimating that it would currently take about $10 billion to complete a journey to Mars. One day, he hopes the cost will be closer to $200,000. It’s unclear if the lower cost would be per trip or per person making the trip.

In order to make continuous trips to the planet, Musk envisions creating a fleet of four rockets that would travel to Mars every two years.

Each of the rockets would be reusable, have the ability to refuel in Earth’s orbit, and produce fuel on Mars using the planet’s abundance of carbon dioxide and ice to create methane fuel.

Musk also outlined in a video released prior to the event just how passenger would get to the plant. With people — likely a dozen at a time — boarding a spaceship on top of the Interplanetary Transport System (ITS) at NASA’s Cape Canaveral.

The spaceship will be equipped with 42 separate rocket engines that ignite with 28.7 million pounds of thrust. After liftoff, a first stage rocket booster detaches and the unmanned spaceship will enter Earth’s orbit.

The booster eventually makes its way back to the launched where a propellant tanker is loaded and it is all sent back into space. There, the tanker fills up the spaceship.

At that point, the spaceship, which is equipped with gigantic 200,000 watt solar panels, would head to Mars, where it will land after a multi-month trip.

While Musk believes that trips to Mars could start in as little as a decade, SpaceX is still struggling to get off the ground in some respects.

Earlier this month, an “anomaly” during testing of an unmanned SpaceX rocket at Cape Canaveral created an explosion that destroy the rocket.

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