From the outset, the goal of SpaceX, Elon Musk’s aerospace company, has been to get to Mars; But as the billionaire confessed yesterday, the real challenge will not be to arrive, but to survive .
SpaceX’s plan is to use the gigantic Starship spacecraft to send up to 100 people at the same time (or 100 tons of cargo) to Mars; enough to inaugurate the first self-sufficient city on Mars in 2050.
There is still a long way to go, both in years and technological advances; Starship itself has yet to be finished, and its prototypes have suffered not a few setbacks . But Musk is already thinking about what will happen when his company and humanity in general reach the red planet.
Elon Musk talks about the dangers of Mars
When Musk speaks, he usually does it to talk about his future projects, the possibilities they will open up and how humanity can change; for example, with the recent presentation of a new prototype of Neuralink to connect humans with machines.
But at the virtual event on Mars held yesterday, Musk’s speech was very different, more anchored in reality and aware of the problems that the first Starship travelers to Mars will face, including the possibility of losing their lives. according to CNBC .
“I want to emphasize,” Musk told the virtual audience, “this is something very tough, dangerous and difficult,” adding that “they are not for the faint of heart. There is a good chance that you will die. .”
A colony of pioneers
Musk is not saying anything weird or new; after all, he has already warned that these first volunteers will not be able to return to Earth . Unlike the Moon, Mars is so far away that the chance of returning safely is lower, and is usually quite low already. However, Musk cautions that the “fundamental problem” is not getting to Mars, as that is technically possible.
The real question is what happens when we arrive . SpaceX’s plan involves the construction of an initial base, from which an entire self-sufficient city can be built; and it is that it will not be possible to carry materials, food or oxygen constantly to Mars.
Despite those limitations, the project is staggering in scale. It is estimated that a thousand Starship ships will be necessary to create a sustainable city, since Mars and Earth only align every two years, and therefore it is necessary to take advantage of the moments when the launches are more efficient.
Regardless, Musk says that progress is good, indicating that what is impeding progress the most is the production system, necessary to build such a number of ships. However, that will not happen anytime soon; Musk says that before bringing people in, they will first do hundreds of satellite missions.