Elon Musk Wants to Send 1 Million People to Mars for Humanity to be Multi-Planetary by 2050

I like Elon Musk’s vision and the scope of SpaceX. At the Last Futurist we have something in common with people like Elon Musk and Jeff Bezos. We grew up on science fiction too!

The SpaceX CEO, who has big dreams about building a million-strong city on Mars by 2050, revealed more details last week about how regular citizens could take part in humanity’s multi-planetary future.

It’s a bit vague but here is the gist of it. SpaceX will help lead the space tech race. Elon Musk says he plans to send 1 million people to Mars by 2050 by launching 3 Starship rockets every day and creating ‘a lot of jobs’ on the red planet. The window for Earth to Mars travels only occurs once every 26 months where the two planets are aligned side by side.

How to Scale a Mars Colony

Elon Musk thinks it would take 1,000 rockets 20 years to set up a self-sustaining city on Mars. Oddly, this came to us in a series of tweets. You heard that correctly. In a series of tweets on Thursday, Elon Musk revealed new details about his plan to build a city of 1 million people on Mars by 2050.

The 2030s will be an exciting space race between the U.S. and China and it will feature prominent private company investments and partnerships and not just national space agencies. Of course with Musk’s PR stunts, we have to take things with a grain of salt. Musk has a history of bombastic claims about his hopes to colonize Mars, once outlining a plan to nuke the planet’s atmosphere. Tycoons and their pet dreams, eh?

Can we just call the first Martian city “Elon” already? The rise of SpaceX has been weird to behold though. It’s already doing more exciting work than NASA ever did.

The goal, according to the tweets, is to have a fleet of about 1,000 starships in service. Musk believes the company will eventually be able to produce 100 vessels per year, and each hull should be good for 20-30 years of service. Got that?

SpaceX hopes to have 1 million people on Mars by 2050. Musk says he hopes to make it cheap enough that anyone can go. He has floated $500,000 per seat with a guaranteed return ticket if you change your mind, but this is the first time he suggested the idea of loans to those who couldn’t afford the full price. That sounds like a lifetime of work to repay it.

Musk envisions these ships departing Earth orbit over a 30-day period, the window of time when Earth and Mars are best aligned to make the trip, every 26 months.

(Musk’s Twitter)

Eventually, Musk added, the goal is to launch an average of three Starships per day and make the trip to Mars available to anybody. While we might want to live on Mars one day, being part of the first colony will likely be pretty intense.

With the rise of China, the Chinese are positioned perfectly be the dominant presence on the Red Planet. SpaceX also has pet names for different kinds of ships. The starship architecture consists of a big spaceship called Starship, which Musk has said will be capable of carrying up to 100 people, and a giant rocket named Super Heavy.

SpaceX is all about reusable rocket ships, right? So anything is possible. Both of these vehicles will be reusable; indeed, rapid and frequent reuse is key to Musk’s overall vision, which involves cutting the cost of spaceflight enough to make Mars colonization and other bold exploration feats economically feasible.

The scale of the project is enormous and Martial life is a great unknown. “Building 100 Starships/year gets to 1000 in 10 years or 100 megatons/year or maybe around 100k people per Earth-Mars orbital sync,” Musk wrote in another tweet onJanuary 16th, 2020. Musk appears to have given this “some thought” but not a great deal.

Ready, Set, Mars!

Like in a video game, we’d rush for the uninhabitable planet when the time is right. Indeed timing is everything between Earth and Mars. “Orbital sync” refers to an alignment of the two planets that’s favorable for interplanetary travel, which comes along just once every 26 months. So, Musk envisions huge fleets of Starships departing during these windows.

While the final cost is “very dependent on [the] volume” of travelers, Musk said the cost of moving to Mars will be “low enough that most people in advanced economies could sell their home on Earth [and] move to Mars if they want.” This is supposing of course our home is worth twice as much in 15 years and SpaceX technology becomes a whole lot more efficient and life in a colony on Mars actually becomes feasible.

SpaceX is still a business and Mars is a dream some people are interested in, with space tech creating a lot of jobs and sustainability tech for ensuring the survival of the species. BlueOrigin, owned by Jeff Bezos, might be a partner in the future, while China uses the next twenty years to catch up. By 2040, China is highly likely to have an equivalent to SpaceX or better.

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