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This is Elon Musk’s plan to colonise Mars and create a multi-planet civilisation

  • 28
  • 09
  • 2016

Elon Musk has outlined probably his most ambitious plan yet – establishing a self-sustaining city on Mars, complete with iron foundries and even pizzerias.

While his vision to colonise the Red Planet and make humans a multi-planetary species might sound like straight out of an episode of Battlestar Galactica, Musk described his plans for manned missions to Mars, which he said could begin as early as 2022 – three years sooner than his previous estimates.

Speaking at the International Astronautical Congress in Guadalajara, Mexico, the SpaceX founder envisioned 1,000 passenger ships flying en masse to the Red Planet well within the next century.

Elon Musk.
(Refugio Ruiz/AP)

As he outlined his vision, Musk said he wants to make humans a multi-planetary species and believes the best way to do that is to colonise the Red Planet.

“I think Earth will be a good place for a long time, but the probable lifespan of human civilisation will be much greater if we’re a multi-planetary species,” he said.


For now, SpaceX – the aerospace company he founded in 2002 – is focusing on satellite deliveries and space station cargo runs for Nasa and a future crew capsule for US astronauts.

But he also added that SpaceX has already begun work on the Mars Colonial fleet, recently test-firing a powerful new rocket engine named Raptor – which ultimately could take people to the moons of Jupiter and beyond.

He said there were “two fundamental paths” facing humanity today.

 Elon Musk.
(Refugio Ruiz/AP)

“One is that we stay on Earth forever and then there will be an inevitable extinction event,” he said. “The alternative is to become a spacefaring civilisation, and a multi-planetary species.”

His goal is to get the price down so anyone could afford to go, with a ticket costing no more than a house on Earth.

“The reason I am personally accruing assets is to fund this,” he said. “I really have no other purpose than to make life interplanetary.”

Musk described in detail his plans to launch a monster-size rocket, saying that the first-stage boosters would return to land vertically – just like his Falcon rocket boosters do now.

Building spacecraft capable of transporting humans to Mars is an expensive one and Musk says reusability, refilling fuel tanks in Earth orbit and creating rocket fuel at Mars for return trips will be important.

The rocket – believed to be larger than Nasa’s Saturn V moon version – would hold a spaceship big enough to carry 100 to 200 people to Mars in a trip that would last several months.

He estimated the current cost of sending someone to Mars at “around $10bn (£7.7bn) per person”.

“Ultimately what I’m trying to achieve here is to make Mars seem possible, make it seem as though it’s something that we can do in our lifetimes,” he said.


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