Elon Musk, founder of the commercial spaceflight company SpaceX, promoted his idea for colonizing Mars with 80,000 people who’ll each pay $500,000 for the trip at the Royal Aeronautical Society on November 16.
Musk’s colonization program would begin with a small pioneering group who would fly to Mars aboard a huge reusable rocket powered by liquid oxygen and methane:
Accompanying the founders of the new Mars colony would be large amounts of equipment, including machines to produce fertilizer, methane and oxygen from Mars’ atmospheric nitrogen and carbon dioxide and the planet’s subsurface water ice.
The Red Planet pioneers would also take construction materials to build transparent domes, which when pressurized with Mars’ atmospheric CO2 could grow Earth crops in Martian soil. As the Mars colony became more self sufficient, the big rocket would start to transport more people and fewer supplies and equipment.
The element in this story that really caught my eye is that the pioneers are being asked to pay their way. Not because it’s a novel idea: a lot of sf stories use that premise. And it’s a commonsense principle of commercial space development – get the users to pay. However, having grown up in the first generation of space exploration, which was all done by national governments, it’s as if I feel a sense of socialistic entitlement, and that it’s somehow offensive that anyone willing to colonize the Red Planet won’t be getting a free ride.
[Thanks to John King Tarpinian for the story.]