How much would you be willing to pay to be a colonist on Mars? According to Billionaire Elon Musk, a one-way ticket to the Red Planet should cost around $500,000…and he plans to make it a reality, not just a hypothetical. Considering what the mission entails, this price tag is surprisingly reasonable.
Elon Musk is the CEO of SpaceX, a private space exploration company interested in, amongst other things, expanding the space tourism market. According to Space.com, Musk wants to launch a Mars colony program with no less than 10 Mars, traveling by of a huge, reusable rocket powered by liquid oxygen and methane. It’s an extremely ambitious goal, but Musk believes it can be done.
The SpaceX CEO hopes to send machines along with the colonists to produce fertilizer, methane, and oxygen from Mars’ atmospheric nitrogen and carbon dioxide, and construction materials to build transparent domes on the Red Planet. Once finished, the domes would pressurize and allow the growth Earth crops including corn, wheat, and soy. Musk hopes that once the Mars pioneers are self-sufficient, they would transport more people with fewer supplies and equipment from Earth to Mars.
A trip to Mars would take anywhere between 150 to 300 days to complete. This is depending the speed of the rocket and whether the Earth and Mars are properly in alignment.
In regards to the Mars pioneer price tag, Musk contends that the asking price of $500,000 would be affordable for those willing to make the trip. Of course, a trip like this wouldn’t be affordable to average, middle-class Americans, so Musk is proposing the super-wealthy be the first to go to build the infrastructure needed for a Mars colony. Let’s assume the super-wealthy will pay workers to be the first pioneers to build on Mars. Musk explains:
‘Some money has to be spent on establishing a base on Mars. It’s about getting the basic fundamentals in place,’ Musk said. ‘That was true of the English colonies [in the Americas]; it took a significant expense to get things started. But once there are regular Mars flights, you can get the cost down to half a million dollars for someone to move to Mars. Then I think there are enough people who would buy that to have it be a reasonable business case.’
The reusable rocket Musk hopes to use for the voyage to Mars will be the same technology used in SpaceX’s Falcon 9 booster. It has the ability to launch and land vertically, and is fueled by liquid oxygen (LOX) and kerosene. At the moment, Musk’s team of engineers is trying to develop a reusable rocket fueled by LOX and methane to keep costs low.
The best way to complete this goal is through government and private agencies working together. According to the SpaceX CEO, a reusable rocket will be ready in five to six years, and it will be the biggest way to keep costs down to make the trip to Mars affordable.
Below you can check out a video of Elon Musk talking about his plans for a Mars colony.