There’s been a lot of talk about how SpaceX will be sending the first manned mission to Mars by 2025, or 2026 at the latest, and how this would pave the way to colonizing the planet. Humanity needs to become a multi-planetary species, CEO Elon Musk believes, but it will come at a cost.
Or, as Musk himself says in a recent chat with Peter Diamandis, founder of the X Prize Foundation, “a bunch of people will probably die in the beginning.” The chat took place on April 22, which was Earth Day, and focused mostly on what man needs to do to cut down on carbon emissions before it’s too late. Musk took part in it because of his vested interest in the topic, and he discussed the Mars missions only in reference to how rockets have very high carbon footprints.
The space-related bit starts at around the 8.38-minute mark in the video below.
Never the one to beat around the bush, Musk admits right from the start that sending a manned mission to the Red Planet is inherently dangerous. “Going to Mars reads like that advert for Shackleton going to the Antarctic,” he says. “You know it is dangerous. It’s uncomfortable, and it’s a long journey. You might not come back alive, but it is a glorious adventure and it will be an amazing experience… Yeah, honestly, a bunch of people will probably die in the beginning.”
Still, it will be a “glorious adventure.” He says everyone involved understands that, adding that millions are willing to do it and that SpaceX is not “forcing anyone.”
“Humanity is the agent of life and we have an obligation to ensure the creatures of Earth continue even if there is a calamity on Earth, whether it is man-made or a natural calamity – if you look at the fossil record there are many mass extinctions,” Musk continued. “It is about ensuring we pass that threshold where it is self-sustaining if some calamity prevents the ships from going there.”
For the record, Musk declares himself halfway on the topic of how the world will end. Realistically speaking, though, human evolution is cyclic, so expecting the current phase to last forever is unwise. So humanity must be prepared for that inevitable moment.