Colonising Mars: Elon Musk's Dream
Is Red the New Blue?
The Visionary Who Delivers
South African entrepreneur Elon Musk, born in 1971, is a driven man. When he has a vision, he has the knack of bringing it to reality.
Look at what he has already given us:
- Cashless payment with X.com (now Paypal)
- Low carbon footprint driving, in the shape of Tesla electric cars.
- SpaceX - A company that has surpassed NASA in reusable rocket technology and now handles the contracts for supplying the International Space Station amongst other things.
He is also actively involved in other projects regarding:
- A system known as 'Hyperloop' - designed to speed up transportation between cities at a fraction of the cost.
- Solar energy storage as part of the Tesla Company.
- Neuralink, which is a company looking to design chips that can be implanted into the brain to augment and co-exist with our own brain.
Reading his Twitter account is like reading something from a time traveller trying to educate us and bring us up to speed with what we should be doing to protect our planet environmentally. He really does have an incredible gift for translating his dreams into a profitable business, and when I say profitable, I mean for all concerned, not just Elon and his business associates. So when he says he aims to colonise Mars and have a city on the Red Planet by the end of the century, it would be wise to take his words seriously.
Future Dreams or Realities?
The Need to Colonise
There is a growing realisation that the population of the Earth is on a collision course with catastrophe at some point in the future. That may come in the shape of a huge asteroid such as the one that many believe wiped out dinosaurs. It may be a self-inflicted genocide in the shape of a nuclear war or running out of resources due to the unsustainable population growth.
Even in the event of humanity managing to avoid all these potential banana skins, we are doomed to disappear in around five billion years anyway, due to the sun running out of hydrogen. It will swell up, swallow Mercury and Venus and contract into a white dwarf planet.
However the demise happens, some are planning measures to ensure the survival of the human race beyond this disaster and possibly averting it all together, by making us inter-planetary explorers and settlers.
There are many potential starting places where this pioneering planetary exploration may begin, but Mankind has long dreamed of colonising Mars and it remains the most likely target. Especially given the fact that Musk has highlighted it as his aspiration. He has the backing of his own fortune, SpaceX and NASA’s cooperative partnership and all the brains contained within those organisations.
Watch SpaceX's Vision of How They Plan To Do It
Benefits to Mankind
Scientists look at Mars in much the same way that a property investor may look at a decrepit old house. It may not look much now, but they see its potential with hard work and money. The potential benefits to mankind of colonising Mars are pretty clear:
- Somewhere to help man alleviate its population crisis.
- Potential new resources that we can exploit.
- A base with which to explore further into the universe.
- A chance for humanity to survive beyond a cataclysmic event on Earth.
- The ability to analyse and study the planet that we have previously only been able to admire via pictures and unmanned missions.
A Call for Backers of the Vision
As wealthy and powerful as Elon Musk and his business venture corporations are, he cannot do this alone. With that in mind, at the 67th annual International Astronautical Congress, Musk outlined his plans to the world.
You can read the plan free and in full here.
Here, he was clearly trying to inspire other wealthy private investors and philanthropists to join his crusade to make humanity an extraterrestrial, interplanetary, space-exploring, multi-planet dwelling species.
A plan to go boldly where no man has gone before will not be easy or cheap, there will be dangers and probably plenty of problems along the way, but who can fail to be impressed with Musk's vision and aspirations? No doubt there will be detractors and people who scoff at his notions, but I will not be joining their number. I applaud the man and wish him all the luck in the world('s?) with his colonial aspirations.
Watch his full speech at the 2017 SpaceX conference below and get an idea for yourself of the future for mankind as a multiplanet species.
Elon Musk's Speech at SpaceX 2017
Martian Politics and Logistical Problems
One thing that hasn't been mentioned by Elon, as far as I am aware, is politics and an idea of just who would be in charge of this colony. Has Musk considered this?
I would imagine the only solution to this would be a democratic coalition council type of government, representing all the United Nations space-faring countries. I believe this is an important aspect to consider when it comes to space travel. Law and sovereignty are things that have to be discussed and agreed upon by all the nations currently capable of space travel. This alleviates the possibility of future problems over resources and citizen rights in space.
I would propose that a future Martian populace speaks English, thus removing the language barrier as a factor in the future. This would mean only people who can speak or willing to learn, English be allowed to join the mission to colonise space.
Logistical problems are another dilemma for any future population of Mars.
There is a process that while theoretical, has undergone rigorous study and does seem possible - terraforming. This is the process of transforming the natural climate of a planet into one that is habitable for humans. Over a long period, terraforming a planet will theoretically change the atmosphere and make it habitable for humans.
Watch the video below to see how the logistical problems that Martian pioneers face can hopefully be overcome.
Video Explanation of Terraforming Mars
Mars has held a fascination for mankind ever since we discovered it's similarities to Earth and the possibility of it containing life. While it seems very unlikely that there are flying saucer piloting humanoids, it is not beyond the realms of possibility that some form of life may still be found on Mars, even if it is merely bacterial or microbial.
The unlikeliness of humanoid life on Mars hasn't diminished our excitement though, it has been replaced with a huge desire to visit it, much like when the Americans and Russians were locked in the race to set foot on the moon.
Elon Musk has taken it one step further and is putting his plans for populating our neighbouring planet firmly into the thoughts of the men who can make it happen.
I send him my personal best wishes and the best of luck to those first brave pioneers.
Questions & Answers
© 2018 Ian McKay