SpaceX and Tesla founder Elon Musk finally revealed his scheme this week for creating permanent colonies on Mars. Musk's plans are huge and not for the faint-hearted. If they go forward, they'll mark one of the most ambitious endeavors in human history.
Musk is banking on a lot with his scheme for turning humans into a race of true space travelers, including major leaps forward in both rocket science and in human ambition. Here are five things we learned from his presentation.
1. Elon Musk is dead serious.
He declared that pretty much everything he does to rake in billions is geared to support his Mars endeavor. Speaking from the stage at the International Astronautical Congress in Guadalajara, he indicated he believes support will "snowball" as more and more people buy into the reality of his plan. And, "The main reason I’m personally accumulating assets is to fund this," said Musk.
2. Going to live on Mars won't be a free ride.
But it might be much less expensive than you'd think. Musk said that several years in the future, the aspiring Martian colonist could expect to pay about the price of the average home—$200,000. Eventually, Musk said, costs for migrating the roughly 35 million miles may "ultimately could drop below $100,000."
3. SpaceX's interplanetary transport uses some Big Fucking Rockets.
No, seriously—SpaceX's newest rocket, which is intended as the bedrock propulsion for the interplanetary spacecraft, is called BFR, or "Big Fucking Rocket." The ship is BFS, or "Big Fucking Spaceship." Together, they'll be far larger than the occasionally explosive Falcon 9. The carbon fiber ship itself will resemble a space shuttle with its wings clipped and will hold perhaps up to 200 passengers.
4. Musk wants interplanetary travel to be fun!
Flying to Mars, Musk said, has "to be fun and exciting," not "cramped or boring." The BFS will provide passengers with games in zero gravity, movies, and even a restaurant.
5. Interplanetary travel may also kill you.
One solid argument against these awesome plans being pie-in-the-sky is Musk's clear-eyed admission in a Q&A after his presentation that "the first journeys to Mars will be really very dangerous." The trip should take 80 days, according to Musk, and any "risk of fatality will be high. There's just no way around it." If a prospective passenger is "prepared to die," Musk said, they are "a candidate for going."
With that in mind, Musk's excitement about the mission was palpable. "It would be an incredible adventure," he said, "I think it would be the most inspiring thing that I can possibly imagine."
We'll keep an eye on how the billionaire entrepreneur's plans unfold, because they do sound amazing for anyone with an overwhelming need to get the hell off the planet.
Musk may have more volunteers than he can handle.
h/t The Verge