Eccentric billionaire and SpaceX founder Elon Musk has already demonstrated that he intends to put his (considerable) money where his mouth is when it comes to advancing the privatization of space exploration. On May 25th, SpaceX’s Dragon capsule docked with the International Space Station, putting SpaceX in a category that had previously only been occupied by nations such as the U.S., China, and Russia. Musk’s plans for the future are even more ambitious: he’s got his sights set on Mars.
With the news networks eager to capitalize on the excitement over NASA’s Curiosity rover, ABC News got Musk on the horn to discuss the future of space exploration, and the former PayPal entrepreneur wasn’t shy about his goals.
Musk wants to put humans on the Red Planet by around 2025, and he’s not just planning a short trip, either. The billionaire is focused on the big picture: actual human colonization of Mars within our lifetime. Musk says he wants to make it affordable for the “average American family” to emigrate to Mars. Musk’s estimate of “no more than half a million dollars” may not jibe with most people’s definition of “affordable,” but considering what we’re talking about, that is still pretty damn cheap.
Musk concedes that the prospect is “very difficult…but possible.” And wouldn’t most truly amazing feats fall into that category? Our race to the Moon was inspired by a president and made reality by a government organization. With space exploration becoming less and less of a priority for our current government, perhaps it will take wealthy dreamers like Musk to take up that mission and carry us one more step beyond the cradle.
I have no idea if Musk will be able to realize his lofty ambitions, but I do know that between SpaceX’s recent accomplishments and the landing of the Curiosity rover, it feels like space exploration is really alive and moving forward in a way it hasn’t for a long time. I don’t know about you, but I’d like to see a human footprint on Mars before I die. And who ever said we had to dream small?