Mars Pioneers

The First Colony

Huge Mars Colony Eyed by SpaceX Founder Elon Musk.

Elon Musk, the billionaire founder and CEO of the private spaceflight company SpaceX, wants to help establish a Mars colony of up to 80,000 people by ferrying explorers to the Red Planet for perhaps $500,000 a trip. In Musk's vision, the ambitious Mars settlement program would start with a pioneering group of fewer than 10 people, who would journey to the Red Planet aboard a huge reusable rocket powered by liquid oxygen and methane. "At Mars, you can start a self-sustaining civilization and grow it into something really big," said Musk. Accompanying the founders of the new Mars colony would be large amounts of equipment, including machines to produce fertilizer, methane and oxygen from Mars’ atmospheric nitrogen and carbon dioxide and the planet's subsurface water ice. The Red Planet pioneers would also take construction materials to build transparent domes, which when pressurized with Mars’ atmospheric CO2 could grow Earth crops in Martian soil.

As the Mars colony became more self sufficient, the big rocket would start to transport more people and fewer supplies and equipment. Musk’s $500,000 ticket price for a Mars trip was derived from what he thinks is affordable. "The ticket price needs to be low enough that most people in advanced countries, in their mid-forties or something like that, could put together enough money to make the trip," he said, comparing the purchase to buying a house in California. He also estimated that of the eight billion humans that will be living on Earth by the time the colony is possible, perhaps one in 100,000 would be prepared to go. That equates to potentially 80,000 migrants. Musk figures the colony program — which he wants to be a collaboration between government and private enterprise — would end up costing about $36 billion. He arrived at that number by estimating that a colony that costs 0.25 percent or 0.5 percent of a nation’s gross domestic product (GDP) would be considered acceptable.

 

The United States' GDP in 2010 was $14.5 trillion; 0.25 percent of $14.5 trillion is $36 billion. If all 80,000 colonists paid $500,000 per seat for their Mars trip, $40 billion would be raised.

 

Kemo D. 7

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