The world is making plans to colonize Mars and Elon Musk is the main guy. The journey won’t be easy at all, but here’s what Musk’s plans are.
“You want to wake up in the morning and think the future is going to be great – and that’s what being a spacefaring civilization is all about,” Elon Musk said at the International Astronautical Congress in 2017. “It’s about believing in the future and thinking that the future will be better than the past. And I can’t think of anything more exciting than going out there and being among the stars.”
We should go to mars, not because of colonization, but because it’s cool, it will generate knowledge and foster innovation. And most importantly, to ensure our survival, we must become a multi-planetary species. And Mars is the best planet to start.
But why Mars though?
Well, Venus has lead-melting temperatures, crushing atmospheric pressure, acidic rain, and hot winds. Mercury is similarly hot during the day, and extremely cold at night. Our moon is small, has no atmosphere, and doesn’t have many resources. Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus, and Neptune are just condensed balls of gas that can never be habitable. They also have incredible amounts of pressure at their surface. Jupiter and Saturn’s moons are possible candidates, but they’re further and colder than Mars. Pluto is even further and colder. So, Mars is our best candidate for now.
Mars and Earth are very different planets when it comes to temperature, size, and atmosphere, but geologic processes on the two planets are surprisingly similar.
Both Earth and Mars have canyons, valleys, craters, volcanoes, ice caps, storms, and seasons. Mars is half the diameter of Earth, but both planets have the same amount of dry land. And then, the red planet has four seasons, just like Earth, but each one lasts twice as long. A day on Mars is 24.62 hours long, just about as long as a day on Earth. And lastly, Mars has water.
Elon Musk is working to make Mars colonization seem as though it is something that we can do in our lifetime.
The journey to Mars for humans will be hard. It’s expensive and dangerous. However, like so many advocates of Mars exploration, I’ve always thought the sacrifice was worth it.
Musk agrees that first we’re gonna have to live in transparent domes, but he’s confident that eventually, we could transform Mars into an Earth-like planet by warming it up.
The red planet is a little cold, but Musk plans to warm it up by blasting the planet’s poles with thermonuclear weapons.
He wants to nuke the sky over the Martian poles every couple of seconds. His idea is to create two pulsing suns over the regions.
Every few moments, he wants to send a large fusion bomb over the poles, to create small blinking suns. The tiny suns would then warm up the planet and turn any frozen carbon dioxide into gas. CO2 is a potent greenhouse gas, meaning it absorbs and traps heat. The more of the gas that’s in the atmosphere, the warmer the surface of Mars becomes.
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And then, eventually, we would have to make Mars sustainable because Musk thinks resupply ships might stop coming from Earth for any reason, and if that happens, humans will die slowly and painfully.
He thinks it will take 1,000 spaceships and “a million tons” of vitamin C to make life on Mars sustainable. But people must definitely have all the ingredients in order to become self-sustaining.
Musk hopes to populate Mars with a million people by 2050.
SpaceX is working to build a permanent human settlement on Mars with its Starship rocket – a reusable rocket-and-spacecraft combo that is currently under development at the company’s South Texas facility.
Starship will be the world’s most powerful launch vehicle ever developed, with the ability to carry in excess of 100 metric tonnes to Earth orbit. Together the Starship spacecraft and Super Heavy rocket will create a reusable transportation system capable of on-orbit refueling and leveraging Mars’ natural H2O and CO2 resources to refuel on the surface of Mars.
The private spaceflight company is on track to launch its first uncrewed mission to Mars in as little as four years from now, followed by a crewed mission two years later.
On the long journey to Mars, the spaceship will provide zero-gravity games, movies, lecture halls, and restaurants. The spaceship is a zero-gravity cruise ship that Musk hopes will eventually cost $500,000 per individual.
Musk tweeted in January that the goal of his Starship transportation system to Mars will be to launch each of SpaceX’s reusable Starship rockets about three times per day, on average, while carrying a 100-ton payload on each flight, with roughly 1,000 flights per year carrying more than 100 tons of cargo on each flight.
At that rate, Musk theorizes, each Starship rocket would make roughly 1,000 flights per year, launching a total of 100,000 tons of cargo into orbit. And 1,000 Starships could send maybe around 100k people per Earth-Mars orbital sync. The Earth-Mars orbital sync is the period, every 26 months when Earth’s and Mars’ orbits are best aligned for an interplanetary journey.
When people start roaming the red planet, Musk said there will be a direct democracy so that the inhabitants will make decisions for themselves.
As for Mars city, Musk believes it will have an outdoorsy, fun atmosphere, so you’d probably want to have some faceted glass dome, with a park, so you can walk around without a spacesuit.
In Musk’s mind, Martian food would be grown on solar-powered hydroponic farms, located either underground or in an enclosed structure, he said.
Musk has thrown around various timeframes for landing on Mars, but experts believe it might take longer than he’s forecasting. He’s highly confident that the space company will launch an uncrewed rocket to the planet in 2024, followed by a crewed mission in 2026.
For Musk, it’s all about moving fast, learning from mistakes, and developing technology and engineering methods that haven’t even been created yet, on the go, on the fly.
However, Mars is just one step.
Future humans will eventually colonize the whole solar system and even go beyond the Sun’s influence.
Space holds deep commercial promise and a new frontier of unexploited resources. One NASA report estimated that metals and minerals found in our solar system’s asteroid belt could exceed $100 billion for six billion people on Earth.