On Tuesday, Elon Musk gave a keynote talk at the 67th International Astronautical Congress in Guadalajara, Mexico, where he outlined SpaceX’s ambitious plan to colonize Mars. Musk made it clear that he wants to make a “ticket to Mars” within reach for many people, aiming to bring the price down to $200,000 – or the median cost of a house in the US.
But one qualification might set a potential Mars explorer apart from your average Joe looking to vacation on the red planet: a required comfort level with a grand adventure that has quite a high chance of ending in death.
“The first journey to Mars is going to be really very dangerous,” Musk said. “The risk of fatality will be high, there’s just no way around it.”
Musk added that he would not suggest sending children on the journey.
“It would be basically: are you prepared to die? And if that’s okay then you’re a candidate for going.”
- Aidan Monaghan/20th Century Fox
Setting up shop on Mars isn’t going to be a cakewalk. The first human beings to set foot on the planet will have to deal with an onslaught of radiation, solar flares, weak gravity, frigid cold, and even toxic soil. But according to Musk, it’s worth the risk to become a multiplanetary species.
“This is less about who goes there first,” Musk said. “The thing that really matters is making a self sustaining civilization on Mars as fast as possible. [It’s about] protecting life, and ensuring that the line of consciousness is not extinguished which I think is incredibly important.”
And beyond the basic incentives, like colonizing a foreign planet and saving humanity from an impending extinction event, Musk says the trip to Mars will be “an incredible adventure.”
“I think it would be the most inspiring thing that I can possibly imagine,” he said. “Life needs to be more than just solving problems every day. You need to wake up and be excited about the future, and be inspired, and want to live.”
According to Musk, this mission is not only about “minimizing existential risk,” but also about “having a tremendous sense of adventure.”