Elon Musk outlines plans to build an 80,000 person colony on Mars

By on November 28, 2012, 8:30 AM

Enterprising entrepreneur Elon Musk, the man responsible for Tesla Motors, SpaceX and PayPal, is looking to expand his reach into space. He recently outlined plans to build a colony on Mars as part of a public-private joint venture that could house up to 80,000 individuals.

Those wishing to relocate to the Red Planet won’t have to fork over as much money as you might initially think. Musk says that half a million dollars per person is all that’s required for a ride on a reusable rocket powered by methane and liquid oxygen. The first group of Martian citizens would be limited to 10 people or less, he said.

It’ll take a lot more to make the project a reality, however. Estimates put the cost somewhere in the $36 billion price range. Early inhabitants would be sent with the necessary equipment to grow crop and use the nitrogen and carbon dioxide on Mars to their advantage. Utilizing subsurface Martian ice is also in the plans, according to the South African entrepreneur.

This isn’t the first time that Musk has talked about his ambitions to explore our solar system. In August he said he believed he could put a man on Mars within 12 to 15 years. He said he was confident that it could be done. He backed up those claims a month later during an interview with CBS This Morning, claiming he had worked out the calculations two years prior that would be necessary to make it happen.




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Pan Wah said:

Enterprising entrepreneur Elon Musk, the man responsible for Tesla Motors, SpaceX and PayPal, is looking to expand his reach into space. He recently outlined plans to build a colony on Mars as part of a public-private joint venture that could...

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Why?

1 person liked this | davislane1 davislane1 said:

Why?

Same reason Britain, Spain, etc. wanted to send people to the New World: When your society has problems, you run as far away as possible. Also: there's money in it.

Guest said:

"Musk says that half a million dollars per person is all that's required for a ride on a reusable rocket powered by methane and liquid oxygen."

I find that hard to believe:

Today, it costs $10,000 to put a pound of payload in Earth orbit.

Address : [link]

A 200 lbs man = 2 million dollars.

Maybe getting in to the orbit is the part that costs the most, but still it sounds ridiculous.

cmbjive said:

Shouldn't we colonize the moon first?

jobeard jobeard, TS Ambassador, said:

Not in my, your, or our grandchildren's lifetime. As is said around the world "when pigs fly" :grin:

1 person liked this | 9Nails, TechSpot Paladin, said:

Just $500,000 to move to Mars, and become what, a dirt farmer? I quite like my technology, comforts, and possessions that I get on Earth.

1 person liked this | Guest said:

Hm..too earthish..I want more central...in the galaxy.

1 person liked this | whiteandnerdy said:

I'd do it, but only for a while. Red would get quite boring.

2 people like this | Tygerstrike said:

There actually is a way to cut the costs associated with any launch. Privatize the mission. We hear all the stories about how it costs XXXX dollars to put anything in space. However thats because it was normally govt funded, and Im 100% sure kickbacks and pocket lining factor into actual costs. If a private business took it over there would be cost cutting measures for sure.

I believe would could have a colony functioning in under 20yrs on mars. As in the begining resources would have to be launched from Earth, it could become self sustaining in under 5 years. Provided that the colonists would be able to grow/manufacture food and water. Given Mars relativly mild seismic activity, a underground colony could evolve and allow mankind to settle in. So its not really that far away in reality. It would take some capital and planning but is very financially possible. The big thing would be making sure ppl wouldnt go nutz on a 2yr trip and wouldnt completly lose it when they got there.

1 person liked this | danhodge danhodge said:

Really? People asking are asking 'Why'?

We are kind of running out of habitable room on earth :'

lipe123 said:

Jeez I'd do it just for fun! What kind of person doesn't want to go colonize another planet?

Guest said:

I hope all rich celeb go to Mars.

1 person liked this | Alexmx said:

AFAIK mars doesn't have magnetic poles, so, in order to first trying to land a human there, they should invent something that somehow emulates a magnetic field, so the solar radiation doesn't tear our DNA into pieces.

I'm all for terraforming mars, but I don't think I will see it in my remaining years of life.

1 person liked this | Wendig0 Wendig0, TechSpot Paladin, said:

I'd only go if there were hookers with 3 titties, like in Total Recall. Also, I'd want my own Tesla Johnny Cab.

1 person liked this | howzz1854 said:

I always question if this guy is actually human or in fact alien. nothing can stop this guy.

Guest said:

Like people are doing on the earth with automobiles he's working with cheaper transportation methods. Not planning on useing the old methods. For instance the rocket itself will actually land on Mars. Something that's not done at the present. So the costs could be as low as he makes out with his alternate power source. He's working to get a rocket really for such an endeavor now they say but not with the cheaper transportation methods yet. Cars went from gas to electric and now there are even toy rockets powered by water. Who knows maybe he has found a way to use rockets cheaper. Only time will tell.

Guest said:

So the first few people, 10 or less would be called Alpha testers. I guarantee this will work or your money back, um, just get back to Earth somehow to collect it. ;)

Really this sounds quite cool however I think the time and cost to completion will be considerably higher.

cmbjive said:

Really? People asking are asking 'Why'?

We are kind of running out of habitable room on earth :'

No, we're not.

Well, I take that back. Envirozealots don't want people to develop anywhere so maybe we are running out of habitable room.

Also, people die. I know, it's sad to say such things but it's the truth.

1 person liked this | TJGeezer said:

Shouldn't we colonize the moon first?

What for? A Moon settlement wouldn't prove anything for Mars, which has an atmosphere and indications of deep caverns where atmospheric pressure would be a lot higher and they might even find liquid water. Also, they'd be protected in caverns from the low-Earth-orbit radiation levels NASA found on the surface. If you mean as a stopover point on the way to Mars, that would only introduce a new gravity well, raise transit costs and make Mars quite a bit more expensive to reach. Besides, people don't pay half-a-mil to dawdle on the Moon when they're going to Mars to be dirt farmers.

cmbjive said:

Shouldn't we colonize the moon first?

What for? A Moon settlement wouldn't prove anything for Mars, which has an atmosphere and indications of deep caverns where atmospheric pressure would be a lot higher and they might even find liquid water. Also, they'd be protected in caverns from the low-Earth-orbit radiation levels NASA found on the surface. If you mean as a stopover point on the way to Mars, that would only introduce a new gravity well, raise transit costs and make Mars quite a bit more expensive to reach. Besides, people don't pay half-a-mil to dawdle on the Moon when they're going to Mars to be dirt farmers.

So if you drive from California to New York you don't stop to get gas, get tired and get food to eat? Now multiply the distance and time of that trip by a factor of 1000 or so and you get an idea about why settling the moon would make more sense than making a trip to Mars, never mind getting the logistics of long distance flights that can take up to a year to complete out of the way.

Wendig0 Wendig0, TechSpot Paladin, said:

$500,000!? Hey man, I got 5 kids to feed!

TJGeezer said:

Shouldn't we colonize the moon first?

What for? A Moon settlement wouldn't prove anything for Mars, which has an atmosphere and indications of deep caverns where atmospheric pressure would be a lot higher and they might even find liquid water. Also, they'd be protected in caverns from the low-Earth-orbit radiation levels NASA found on the surface. If you mean as a stopover point on the way to Mars, that would only introduce a new gravity well, raise transit costs and make Mars quite a bit more expensive to reach. Besides, people don't pay half-a-mil to dawdle on the Moon when they're going to Mars to be dirt farmers.

So if you drive from California to New York you don't stop to get gas, get tired and get food to eat? Now multiply the distance and time of that trip by a factor of 1000 or so and you get an idea about why settling the moon would make more sense than making a trip to Mars, never mind getting the logistics of long distance flights that can take up to a year to complete out of the way.

Stopovers in secondary gravity wells followed by a restart would be a bigger cost - and problem - than stopping for gas and a bathroom break on the Interstate. But I'm with you in one respect - if a colony can't be self-sufficient from very early days, and you just HAVE to have an off-Earth colony supplied in part from Earth, it would make sense to put it closer. I suppose a lot depends on just how supplied-from-Earth such a project would have to be, and for how long. At the very least, there ought to be some serious human exploration of resources and potential colony locations on Mars before Earth sends its poor, its wretched, and its longing to be free refugees out there in covered space wagons.

Guest said:

I think a huge spacecraft/spacestation would be more ideal, and why cant this world take tips from the likes of startrek where they lose currency and strive for bettering mankind rather than worrying how much everything costs all the time.

cmbjive said:

Shouldn't we colonize the moon first?

What for? A Moon settlement wouldn't prove anything for Mars, which has an atmosphere and indications of deep caverns where atmospheric pressure would be a lot higher and they might even find liquid water. Also, they'd be protected in caverns from the low-Earth-orbit radiation levels NASA found on the surface. If you mean as a stopover point on the way to Mars, that would only introduce a new gravity well, raise transit costs and make Mars quite a bit more expensive to reach. Besides, people don't pay half-a-mil to dawdle on the Moon when they're going to Mars to be dirt farmers.

So if you drive from California to New York you don't stop to get gas, get tired and get food to eat? Now multiply the distance and time of that trip by a factor of 1000 or so and you get an idea about why settling the moon would make more sense than making a trip to Mars, never mind getting the logistics of long distance flights that can take up to a year to complete out of the way.

Stopovers in secondary gravity wells followed by a restart would be a bigger cost - and problem - than stopping for gas and a bathroom break on the Interstate. But I'm with you in one respect - if a colony can't be self-sufficient from very early days, and you just HAVE to have an off-Earth colony supplied in part from Earth, it would make sense to put it closer. I suppose a lot depends on just how supplied-from-Earth such a project would have to be, and for how long. At the very least, there ought to be some serious human exploration of resources and potential colony locations on Mars before Earth sends its poor, its wretched, and its longing to be free refugees out there in covered space wagons.

I can certainly agree with you on that and what the poster below you said. My entire point is that we haven't even completed the space station and haven't made frequent trips outside of the outer gravity of the Earth that there are too many variables to consider when making a long distance trip to Mars and that mastering a shorter distance flight and occupation - the moon - would be more optimal.

And I guess letting Johnny use the bathroom on the moon would be a bigger nightmare than pulling off highway and letting him use a bush somewhere.

...

I think Elon Musk will have to give something more concrete than stating he did the math and believes it can be done.

Guest said:

I agree with what GUEST said.

Guest said:

You can say what you want about Elon Musk, but he's a genius. They laughed about him with his Tesla company...he proved them wrong....laughed about his SpaceX....he proved them wrong...and once his Falcon Heavy launch system is active, he'll have the strongest rocket since the Saturn V and it can be used to send manned vehicles to the moon. So you all go ahead and laugh about the guy.... ;)

Pan Wah said:

Really? People asking are asking 'Why'?

We are kind of running out of habitable room on earth :'

Are you sure? I see no sign of it....

And since when is Mars habitable? You may be happy breathing ridiculously thin CO2, but I'm not (it makes me cough!), bit chilly on a night, too.

Pan Wah said:

You can say what you want about Elon Musk, but he's a genius. They laughed about him with his Tesla company...he proved them wrong....laughed about his SpaceX....he proved them wrong...and once his Falcon Heavy launch system is active, he'll have the strongest rocket since the Saturn V and it can be used to send manned vehicles to the moon. So you all go ahead and laugh about the guy....

Well, the name's slightly amusing, he should have a sensible one like Pan Wah or suchlike....

TJGeezer said:

You can say what you want about Elon Musk, but he's a genius. They laughed about him with his Tesla company...he proved them wrong....laughed about his SpaceX....he proved them wrong...and once his Falcon Heavy launch system is active, he'll have the strongest rocket since the Saturn V and it can be used to send manned vehicles to the moon. So you all go ahead and laugh about the guy....

Well, the name's slightly amusing, he should have a sensible one like Pan Wah or suchlike....

Unfortunately, Pan Wah was taken. Elon Musk was his second choice.

I haven't seen much laughter at Elon Musk, not since the Tesla proved his notion that electric cars could be as fast, drivable and beautiful as any wheeled contraption on the market. Ideas that might seem outlandish from someone else are getting a "well.... maybe..." now that the Tesla and SpaceX projects proved do-able.

As for not thinking about the costs - you can't. Even a large organization like a government needs to devote heavy resources to seed such a huge project as an investment, as the ESA decided to treat space transit (having been prodded by Musk, to be sure), and not as short-term bottom-line drains, as the corporate government of the U.S. has done with NASA lately. It's a question of vision, yes, but it still needs to be supported at least in the early stages.

Personally, I think a space elevator is a natural first step, much more so than a Moon base or colony. A space elevator would be close and would provide a more effective (and cheaper) way to climb into and out of the Earth gravity well. If someone builds one, I hope they name it after Arthur C. Clarke, speaking of visionaries.

danhodge danhodge said:

Are you sure? I see no sign of it....

And since when is Mars habitable? You may be happy breathing ridiculously thin CO2, but I'm not (it makes me cough!), bit chilly on a night, too.

I'm not necessarily saying we have to live on Mars to fix the problem - but if we (however impractical it may be) used Mars as a dumping ground for our trash, instead of using landfill sites, and (depending on the conditions, which as you may have guessed, I know nothing of) maybe find some way of generating electricity on there too?

The only way we will be able to sustain the increase in population soon will be by decreasing all the woodland areas, which (if scientists are right) will screw over the world because of all the Co2 (lets pretend the 2 is smaller and above the O).

A lot of our current problems on earth could be fixed by having some more space, so a new planet is pretty good. And unless I am mistaken, it is the most habitable in our solar system - which is our only option since I doubt we will be able to build something that can leave the solar system anytime soon.

I'm not saying it is a good earth substitute; but we could technically live on it with minimal terraforming (stick a heater on, and get some oxygen tanks ).

Pan Wah said:

The only way we will be able to sustain the increase in population soon will be by decreasing all the woodland areas, which (if scientists are right) will screw over the world because of all the Co2 (lets pretend the 2 is smaller and above the O).

Definitely not! MORE woodlands would reduce CO2 levels, plants use it up in photosynthesis.

Also, I hate to think how much energy would be required, and how much pollution caused, by boosting rubbish out of Earth's gravity (on the way to Mars landfill!) - bring on the Saturn V garbage trucks!

Personally, I think a space elevator is a natural first step, much more so than a Moon base or colony. A space elevator would be close and would provide a more effective (and cheaper) way to climb into and out of the Earth gravity well. If someone builds one, I hope they name it after Arthur C. Clarke, speaking of visionaries.

Totally agree. Solar powered one would be nice?

danhodge danhodge said:

Yes, the first bit is exactly what I meant. Not sure how you are disagreeing with me there, you just repeated the same point :'

Who knows - maybe part of his plan is a new fuel source? To make this realistic, we will need to get there pretty damn quick, which will be hard with current fuels/technology. Then of course we will need to please the hippies...

Pan Wah said:

Yes, the first bit is exactly what I meant. Not sure how you are disagreeing with me there, you just repeated the same point :'

No.

Guest said:

Well, I would go out of this planet as soon they colonized another planet. I'm just a parasite here, there is no commensalism in this world. Haha.

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