“In terms of people going to Mars, I think this is potentially something that could be accomplished.” Elon Musk has been the poster child for humanity’s race to reach Mars. SpaceX, a company founded and owned by Elon Musk, has had a mission statement that hasn’t shifted since it’s launch in 2002: to enable people to live on other planets.
It may sound unrealistic, but Elon Musk and SpaceX have put together a plan to make this a reality, by targeting Mars as the first planet to inhabit. Over the past few months there have been more details revealed about the status of this plan. Here are 5 things you should know about Elon Musk’s mission to reach Mars.
1) SpaceX is building the ITS, which will carry 100 passengers to Mars in 80 days.
At a conference in Mexico last September, Elon Musk revealed to the public the Interplanetary Transport System (ITS), which will include the Raptor engine, most powerful rocket ever built for a spaceship. The Raptor has already been successfully tested by SpaceX. The ITS will allow 100 passengers on board. There is no definitive deadline for when the ITS will be completed, but once it is, SpaceX will launch the spaceship, which can reach Mars in only 80 days, depending on how Earth and Mars are aligned.
2) A big issue is that not enough people are willing to go to Mars, yet.
Elon Musk emphasized that there are simply not enough people who are willing to travel to Mars, nor able to afford the trip to Mars. As of now, it will cost $10 billion for a single person to reach Mars. Elon Musk wants to dramatically cut that cost down to about $200,000 per person, by possibly reusing more and more parts of his spaceships. Until that cost lowers, the issue of not having enough people willing or able to go to Mars will remain at large.
3) Elon Musk believes 1,000,000 people can colonize on Mars.
— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) September 27, 2016
Given that the ITS is being built to carry 100 people, it would take at least 10,000 trips to Mars to put 1million people on Mars. Until there are other forms of transportation for transporting people from Earth to Mars, this is in Elon Musk’s plan to have 1 million people reach and colonize on Mars.
4) SpaceX is NOT the only company trying to send humans to Mars.
Mars One is a separate, independent project based in the Netherlands. Founded in 2011 by Bas Lansdorp and Arno Wielders, the Mars One project has reduced its candidate pool for the Mars mission from over 200,000 to just 100 candidates. The organization is still seeking further funding from investors and companies to set a timetable for its launch date.
5) SpaceX has pushed back its target launch date from 2018 to 2020.
SpaceX president Gwynne Shotwell recently stated that they are postponing the target launch date two years, from the proposed 2018 to now 2020. The decision was based on the fact that SpaceX wanted to focus more resources and attention to other projects.
Although the future for humans to reach Mars is still very hopeful, there has not been a definitive date on when the first humans will be launched to Mars. There are still things to be accomplished, but the reality that humans may inhabit Mars during our lifetimes has become even more possible.
Below is a video of SpaceX’s initial proposal to reach Mars. Watch the video below!