Elon Musk, the genius behind Tesla and SpaceX, has said that a self-sustaining city with a million people can be established on planet Mars within a few decades.
The billionaire is one of the visionaries of a human colony on the Red Planet. He admitted that the main reason why he is making money is to make this dream come true.
A Million People To Build A Self-sustaining Civilization On Mars
Musk said that Mars is the best candidate for the first human colony outside our home planet. He cited ways that could make the Red Planet livable for humans such as compressing the Red Planet's atmosphere to make it possible to grow plants and warming the planet to produce thick atmosphere and liquid oceans.
Musk said that a population of a million people would be needed to create a self-sustaining civilization on the Red Planet, which could be done in 40 to 100 years given the right number of ships and flights that can transport people from Earth to Mars.
"The threshold for a self-sustaining city on Mars or a civilization would be a million people," Musk said.
"How long it would take to reach that million-person threshold, from the point at which the first ship goes to Mars would probably be somewhere between 20 and 50 total Mars rendezvous-so it would take 40-100 years to achieve a fully self-sustaining civilization on Mars."
Musk said that the key is for his aerospace and space transport services company SpaceX to create systems that can make moving to Mars affordable. The entrepreneur currently estimates that trips to the Red Planet will cost $140,000 per ton but he thinks that this may possibly be reduced to below $100,000 per ton.
Musk envisions a future where people will save money to move to the Red Planet just like what they do when they move places on Earth. He also said that people may also get a sponsorship to get to the extraterrestrial world.
He acknowledged that not everyone will be interested in moving to Mars but believed that enough people will want to go there. The new colony may also be an attractive place for job hunters. Musk said that because the planet will likely have a labor shortage for a long time, there will be no short supply of jobs there.
Problem With Musk's Plans
Despite Musk's optimism about building a self-sustaining colony on Mars, some are skeptical about his ambitious plans.
Former astronaut Buzz Aldrin, the second person to walk on the moon, cited some problems with Musk's plans saying that these are more focused on transporting people than "housing" them in the extraterrestrial world and people need to adapt and survive once they get to the Red Planet.
There are practical challenges to making the planet livable for humans. How will humans breathe? Where will they get food to eat?
NASA, which also plans to send a manned mission to Mars, is currently conducting studies that can make human survival on Mars possible.
The U.S. space agency is now on a hunt for the best crops that can be cultivated on the Red Planet. It has also looked at the feasibility of using bacteria and algae to produce oxygen needed to keep humans alive on Mars.