Real life Tony Stark-like billionaire Elon Musk, who founded SpaceX and Tesla, announced plans to establish shipping routes to Mars by 2018, with the goal of establishing a colony on the red planet by 2025.
Musk wants to start launching unmanned spacecraft with cargo routes to Mars by 2018 and keep sending them every two years until there’s enough equipment on the planet to start construction on a colony, reports The Next Web.
“Essentially what we’re saying is we’re establishing a cargo route to Mars. It’s a regular cargo route. You can count on it. It’s going happen every 26 months. Like a train leaving the station.”
It’s unclear what form of government the new Mars colony would take, but Musk wants to start construction as soon as possible. His private SpaceX company plans to use its new Dragon spacecraft boosted into orbit by Falcon Heavy rockets with 27 first-stage engines to make the crossing between Earth and Mars.
The months long crossing between the two planets, generally about 140 million miles apart, is sure to be long and difficult, but Musk is confident of recruiting volunteers, reports the Washington Post.
“Just as with the establishment of the English colonies, there are people who love that. They want to be the pioneers.”
NASA has already agreed to provide technical support for the first Mars cargo mission in 2018, in exchange for valuable descent and landing information, but that in no way guarantees success.
SpaceX has yet to fly the Falcon Heavy or land the Dragon spacecraft under its own power, which is an extremely important part of the plan to make a safe landing in the thin atmosphere of Mars. The first real test of the Red Dragon capsule will come in 2020 when the spacecraft uses its onboard engines to lower itself gently to the surface of Mars. If successful, it will be the heaviest thing to land on the red planet in history.
Despite those pesky details, Musk hopes to have his Mars Colonial Transporter up and running by 2022, which would enable him to ship colonists to the red planet en masse.
The first few cargo trips to Mars will involve science experiments and rovers to be followed by a small number of astronauts in case something goes wrong, but that number will quickly ramp up as safety increases, reports the Washington Post.
“It’s about having an architecture that would enable the creation of a self-sustaining city on Mars with the objective of being a multi-planet species and a true space-faring civilization and one day being out there among the stars.”
It’s unclear what the U.S. space agency’s plans for a manned Mars trip consist of. Under President Barack Obama, NASA had clear goals of landing on an asteroid as a first step to the red planet, but now members of Congress are indicating they would rather head back to the moon first.
What form government would take on the red planet is also unclear. In 1967, the United States and 100 other countries signed the “Outer Space Treaty,” which basically says celestial bodies can’t be claimed by individual nations. This also applies to corporations, since every company on Earth does business under a national legal system of some kind.
Although Musk once joked about being king of Mars, the billionaire has since said he would shy away from establishing a dictatorship on the red planet, reports the Observer.
“I think that most likely, the form of government on Mars would be a direct democracy, not representative. So it would be people voting directly on issues.”
SpaceX Hopes to Relaunch a Used Falcon 9 Rocket This Fall https://t.co/kWdnDIw5qQ— SPACE.com (@SPACEdotcom) June 10, 2016
Although colonists on Mars would be unable to return to Earth, the outpost could develop a trading relationship with its home planet once it was up and running.
Elon Musk has said he will reveal more of his Mars colony plans in September.