30 October 2016

Engadget: “Elon Musk’s grand plan to colonize Mars”

Musk estimated that, using traditional methods, it would cost $10 billion per person to travel to Mars, and he wants that figure to drop to roughly $200,000 per person. Eventually, the cost of a Mars move will be below $100,000, Musk said. A large part of lowering that cost is creating spaceships with reusable parts, Musk said. The ITS’ in-orbit refueling stage is crucial to SpaceX’s plans, since it lowers fuel expenditures at liftoff and features fully reusable boosters, tankers and ships. Each booster can be used 1,000 times; each tanker 100 times and each ship 12 times.

Initial trips will take about 100 people to Mars at a time, but Musk said he expected that number (and the size of each ship) to rise in due time. The ITS itself will be a welcoming, fun place, as Musk describes it, featuring zero-gravity rooms, movie areas, a cafeteria and other entertainment options. It’ll take just a few days of training to prepare for a trip to Mars, Musk said.

Jessica Conditt

With each new announcement, Elon Musk reinforces my impression that he’s a megalomaniac who lost touch with reality. I mean, just a year ago he proposed nuking the planet, now he wants to colonize it over the next 10 years?! And all that without any plan for sustainable living on the surface. He will basically send people to death, but hey – they made history, right?

SpaceX’s plan to colonize Mars, explained

Science-fiction author Kim Stanley Robinson, most famous for his Mars trilogy, unsurprisingly has some harsh words about this reckless plan:

It’s 2024. Musk figures everything out and gets funding. He builds his rocket, and 100 people take off. Several months later, they land (somehow) and have to get to work remaking a planet.

I have to note, first, that this scenario is not believable, which makes it a hard exercise to think about further. Mars will never be a single-person or single-company effort. It will be multi-national and take lots of money and lots of years.

Musk’s plan is sort of the 1920s science-fiction cliché of the boy who builds a rocket to the moon in his backyard, combined with the Wernher von Braun plan, as described in the Disney TV programs of the 1950s. A fun, new story.

Eric Roston

Hugh Howey, another science-fiction author known for the Wool series, has similar concerns about Musk’s plans:

Mars is a distraction. And the little bit where Mars is terraformed at the end of SpaceX’s presentation made my jaw drop. As did the idea of people opening the door, and there they are on Mars, with their one-way tickets, and what now? I’m devastated that this is where our ambitions are taking us, down a dead end, when we could be doing so much more here close to home. Let’s start building the orbital station that one day becomes our ark. If we’re going on one-way missions, let’s send them to the stars.

Hugh C. Howey

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