Culture

Elon Musk: SpaceX Will Transport 'Up to One Million People to Mars' Within 40-100 Years

Well, he did say we could “Ask Him Anything.”

Elon Musk, Mr. Tesla CEO himself, joined Reddit Sunday for the social media site’s signature Q&A forum. It wasn’t the questions themselves that jumped out, though.

Musk dove into his plans for space colonization during the online chat courtesy of his role as SpaceX’s Founder and CEO. What he revealed may have sounded like a science fiction fantasy. He’s dead serious about his company’s potential all the same.

Musk’s bold vision includes potentially having people living on Mars in just four short decades. Worst-case scenario? One hundred years. His company wants to eventually transport “up to one million people to Mars,” according to the Q&A.

Musk envisions a small crew of about 12 people to set things in motion. That means constructing the necessary infrastructure as well as the refueling stations needed along the way.

The living quarters would be created in a two-step process. First, droids would burrow underground to create “pressurised space.” Next, glass and carbon fiber domes would allow humans to safely call the Red Planet home.

How would Mars get all those humans to ditch Earth for a new planet? It won’t by easy, nor will it happen overnight.

… each spaceship would be designed to carry 100 settlers to Mars. About 1,000 of the spaceships would be built over the course of several decades, with the aim of setting up a mass migration every 26 months.

The chat drew north of 5,000 comments.

Last month, Musk shared why he’s speaking up about plans that are literally decades away.

“I want to make Mars seem possible… like something that we can do in our lifetimes,” he said during the International Astronautical Congress in Guadalajara, Mexico.

Of course, grabbing a bite on Mars won’t be easy. We saw that played out in the fictional sense during the 2015 feature “The Martian” starring Matt Damon.

The hard truth behind the subject is even more troublesome.

The soil on Mars lacks the nutrients that makes Earth’s so welcoming to plants. It is also thin, like dust, which means water would seep down and away from plant roots too easily. Nitrogen in soil is essential for plants to grow, and on Earth the nitrogen that’s abundant in our atmosphere becomes “fixed” in soil by bacteria that hang out on plants’ roots. Mars’ soil, lacking life, doesn’t come with such a mechanism, which means humans would have to devise some way to transform it.

Musk founded SpaceX in 2002. The company has more than 4,000 employees at its Hawthorne, Calif., headquarters and boasts launch facilities at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Florida, and Vandenberg Air Force Base, California.

Musk’s personal wealth, according to Forbes.com, is $11.6 billion.