Elon Musk makes getting humans to Mars his top priority

12 June 2020

Artist impression of a Martian colony. (Credit: SpaceX)

Last month’s NASA and SpaceX successful launch of astronauts from US soil for the first time in almost a decade, has reignited discussion about space travel to Mars and beyond. SpaceX is fronted by the billionaire Elon Musk.

Sky News reports:

Having completed its first human launch, SpaceX’s founder and chief executive Elon Musk says the company is now focusing on developing its next-generation spacecraft Starship …

According to an internal email sent to staff and seen by CNBC, the CEO told staff that development on Starship is now the primary focus for the company …

Starship was unveiled last September and is designed to carry a crew and cargo “to the moon, Mars or anywhere else in the solar system”, according to the billionaire.

Musk has outlined his vision of building a colony on Mars with the first rocket propelling humans to the planet by 2025. And last year, he tweeted he believed it was “possible to make a self-sustaining city on Mars by 2050, if we start in five years”.

In March 2018, Musk said that humans must prioritise the colonisation of Mars so the species can be conserved in the event of a third world war, the Guardian reported.

“It’s important to get a self-sustaining base on Mars because it’s far enough away from earth that [in the event of a war] it’s more likely to survive than a moon base,” Musk said on stage at SXSW – just days after Donald Trump announced plans to meet the North Korean leader, Kim Jong-un, in an attempt to defuse rising nuclear tension.

“If there’s a third world war we want to make sure there’s enough of a seed of human civilisation somewhere else to bring it back and shorten the length of the dark ages,” Musk said, responding to questions from his friend Jonah Nolan, the co-creator of the TV show Westworld.

If humanity is ever going to settle down on the Red Planet, we may need to become a little less human.

During a recent webinar hosted by the New York Academy of Sciences called “Alienating Mars: Challenges of Space Colonization,” astrobiologist Kennda Lynch said that genetic engineering and other advanced technologies “may need to come into play if people want to live and work and thrive, and establish their family, and stay on Mars”.

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