Elon Musk has mapped out exactly what you’ll be able to do on his spacecraft to Mars in an attempt to make the journey more appealing for travellers.
"In order to make it appealing... it has got to be really fun and exciting – it cannot feel cramped or boring. Therefore, the crew compartment or the occupant compartment is set up so that you can do zero-gravity games – you can float around. There will be movies, lecture halls, cabins, and a restaurant. It will be really fun to go. You are going to have a great time!"
Musk revealed his grand plan for establishing a human settlement on Mars last September. Now he has gone into more detail about what that may look like and how he plans to colonise Mars:
History is going to bifurcate along two directions one path is we stay on Earth forever, and then there will be some eventual extinction event. The alternative is to become a space-bearing civilisation and a multi-planetary species, which I hope you would agree is the right way to go.
His plan is to use his own Interplanetary Transport System, with a reusable rocket to shuttle people back in forth from Earth and Mars within the next century.
SpaceX will start trialling with unmanned space shuttles by 2020 (at the earliest).
Optimistic Musk, says the hurdle is getting people to pay for the tickets:
You cannot create a self-sustaining civilization if the ticket price is $10 billion per person, If we can get the cost of moving to Mars to be roughly equivalent to a median house price in the United States, which is around $200,000, then I think the probability of establishing a self-sustaining civilization is very high. I think it would almost certainly occur.
Musk’s plan will require: number one his ships to be reusable and number two finding propellant on Mars.
He plans to hold at least 100 people on board each ship; he is hoping to have at least 1000 ships waiting to orbit.
A Colonial Fleet.
Musk explains the rocket will be made of advanced carbon fibre and be capable of lifting about 500 metric tonnes.
Musk and his team at SpaceX have deliberately withheld dates from the public as he begins preparation and trialling in the initial stages.
“There is a good chance we will not succeed, but we are going to do our best and try to make as much progress as possible,” says Musk. And it might not just be Mars – he has grander plans for sending people to Jupiter’s moons Europa and Enceladus, or Saturn’s moon Titan, or even Pluto.
“[Y]ou could travel out to the Kuiper Belt, to the Oort cloud,” he writes. “I would not recommend this for interstellar journeys, but this basic system – provided we have filling stations along the way – means full access to the entire greater solar system.”
Elon Musk, Everybody.
The eternal optimist.