According to Elon Musk, we may be heading to Mars as soon as next year, but he has also stated that for those brave enough to make the journey there’s a “good chance you will die.”
Elon Musk spoke on the progress of SpaceX and the eventual manned trip to Mars at the South by Southwest conference in Austin, Texas. “It’s difficult, dangerous, [there’s a] good chance you will die, excitement for those who survive, that kind of thing.”
Musk’s eventual goal is to have humanity colonize Mars – a lofty achievement that would take developments of rockets that can be reused in order for it to be in any way economical. Elon Musk has stated that a SpaceX ship is being built exactly for that purpose, with the test flights being short, up-and-down trips. The ship will be fully reusable, and he hadn’t shared how long the flights would be.
Although the interplanetary ship would be able to take us to Mars next year, Elon Musk did elaborate on how the pioneering travelers might face some significant obstacles – perhaps making great sacrifices for the future of space travel.
“I think there aren’t that many people that want to go in the beginning because all those things I said are true. But there will be some who will, for whom the excitement of frontier and exploration exceeds the danger.”
Despite the goal of Elon Musk to take SpaceX to Mars in just a year’s time, he has also admitted that there is a high possibility that timeline would not be met, calling the Mars test flight rocket schedule “optimistic.”
Musk does hope, however, that a successful trip to Mars would prove to other companies that it’s possible for private businesses to play a key role in our expansion into outer space.
“They currently don’t think it’s possible so that if we show them that it is, then I think that they will up their game and they will build interplanetary transport vehicles, as well.”
The SpaceX exec also hopes that the colonization of Mars will result in an “explosion of entrepreneurial opportunities,” with businesses descending on the red planet in order to offer the fundamentals any society needs to survive, such as a power plant, solutions for farming, and even indulgences like fast food and candy.
While getting to Mars by the end of next year is certainly a lofty goal as far as manned space flights are concerned, SpaceX is already laying the groundwork for their eventual manned trips. The SpaceX Falcon Heavy rocket – one of the biggest rockets in terms of payload capacity to date – had a successful launch recently. As a large and, more importantly, reusable rocket, ships like the Falcon Heavy could give the private space company the tools they need in order to bring humanity to distances we haven’t seen thus far.
Despite advancements that Elon Musk and his company have been making towards bringing us further into outer space, there are inherent problems with the idea of a manned flight of that length in terms of the health of the astronauts. Studies and previous astronauts’ experiences have shown that being in low-gravity situations for too long can have marked effects on health. Until we find a viable solution that would allow space travelers to be away from Earth for longer periods of time, the dream of Elon Musk might not come to fruition – at least on any sort of grand scale.
However, SpaceX may have solved the biggest problem in terms of actually transporting people to Mars with the introduction of reusable rockets. With the price of transporting people and goods drastically reduced – and perhaps expanded into other companies who have a vested interest in space flight – it may be easier than ever before to take the dream of a colonized planet from the realm of fantasy into reality.
Only time will tell if we can put a space traveler on Mars by the end of next year, but there’s one thing that’s certain: a manned space flight is coming sooner rather than later, and Elon Musk has certainly demonstrated that his company has the determination and the know-how to make such a fantastic feat a real possibility.