Elon Musk can’t stop saving the world.
After developing electric cars with Tesla because ordinary cars caused too much pollution, and creating a solar energy company because fossil fuels would eventually die out, now he’s preparing for the worst case scenario – humanity leaving earth.
Musk’s SpaceX has just revealed an ambitious vision for a manned mission to Mars that’ll take humans to the red planet in just six years. That’s three years sooner than previous estimates.
In order to achieve this goal, Musk outlined a multi-stage launch and transport system, including a reusable booster – like the Falcon 9, which SpaceX has already successfully tested – only much larger. The booster, and the “interplanetary module” on top of it, would be nearly as long as two Boeing 747 aircraft. It could initially carry up to 100 passengers, he said. The first ship would be called Heart Of Gold.
The mission wouldn’t be cheap though – it would cost an estimated $10 billion (Rs. 70,000 crore) to send a human to Mars. The price would drop dramatically after the first mission because of the reusability of the aircraft.
It’s not completely clear how the project is going to be funded. While presenting, Musk outlined three sources of funding – kickstarter, profit (from satellite launches), and, rather bizarrely, “steal underpants.” Musk remains committed to the mission though. “The reason I am personally accruing assets is to fund this. I really have no other purpose than to make life interplanetary,” he said at the event.
In the past, Musk has put in large sums of money to fund his pet projects. He’d earlier put all his earnings from his PayPal acquisition into Tesla and Solar City. He’d said that it wasn’t a financial investment – he put in the money because some causes were too important to be ignored. This Mars project seems much along the same lines.
Musk might be the hero we need, not necessarily the one we deserve.