In case you missed it last night, SpaceX founder Elon Musk made a big speech at the 67th International Astronautical Congress in Guadalajara, Mexico. His goal? To present a plan for colonizing the planet Mars and the possibility of human beings becoming a multi-planetary species as something that’s actually attainable, maybe even in the fairly near future.
Read more on potentially historical step forward below, and find a video of what a trip to Mars might look like along with the full Musk presentation video if you wish to watch it.
Among the things Musk covers in the presentation is the immense cost of transporting people to Mars and how to bring the cost down to a place where many more people could afford it; ships and their look, function, and capacity; warming up the chilly Red Planet a bit so it’s more of a friendly environment for humans to exist in; and even the different types of entertainment that will be found on the transport ship so that those who do make the big move won’t just be sitting around losing their minds the entire trip. This isn’t just random talking. It’s an exceptionally detailed and technical plan. Is this exactly how we’ll one day get to Mars? Probably not. Much could change between then and now. But it is what much research points to as the best current options to work with and build upon.
Whether any of this is something we’ll actually see in our lifetimes, I have no idea. It is extremely exciting to think about, though. As Musk mentions at the start of the video, there will be some kind of extinction event happening to our planet at some point, though very likely to be far, far down the road. Still, that makes humans branching out beyond our home a crucial step if the species is going to survive many years after you and I have disappeared from existence. Back in 2013 we heard about those 200,000 people who applied for a one-way trip to be the first on Mars. While that also might still be in the works, Musk doesn’t appear interested in one-way trips, which could be beneficial to the Mars One mission if it goes forward. Maybe the folks who applied ready and willing to leave Earth and never come back might now have an option to actually come back at some point.
Mars doesn’t seem like the most habitable of planets, of course. But the nearest star system to our own solar system, Alpha Centauri, is over four light years away. Within it is a terrestrial exoplanet, currently orbiting a red dwarf star named Proxima Centauri in the “Goldilocks zone” where scientists believe liquid water could exist, greatly increasing the chances of the planet being habitable and maybe even already hosting life. This is a prime candidate for future interstellar missions, naturally. But even with our fastest current rockets, it would take around 137 thousand years just to reach this neighboring star system. Yeah…not what one would consider an enjoyable “road trip.”
And that’s the CLOSEST one. We know there’s a massive amount of stars out there with their own planets, and countless potential Earth-like targets have been documented. They just all happen to be an incomprehensible distance from us. Fate can be cruel on many scales, kids, including universal. And so we make due with what we have where we stand now, which makes Mars the best option for at least beginning to branch out. The first step which various intelligent lifeforms existing in a Mass Effect-like universe will one day be taught about in history classes as the start of the human species’ expansion into the cosmos.
For now many wannabe space explorers continue to dream, only now there’s a blueprint that could one day soon offer them the chance to make those dreams a reality. And that, my friends, is a significant progression.
SpaceX Founder, CEO, and Lead Designer Elon Musk will discuss the long-term technical challenges that need to be solved to support the creation of a permanent, self-sustaining human presence on Mars. The technical presentation will focus on potential architectures for sustaining humans on the Red Planet that industry, government and the scientific community can collaborate on in the years ahead.