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Thanks for the memories  July 26, 2012

Elon Musk's plan to colonise Mars

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Michelle Starr is the tiger force at the core of all things. She also writes about cool stuff and apps as CNET Australia's Crave editor. But mostly the tiger force thing.

A SpaceX concept video shows a Dragon shuttle landing on the surface of Mars.
(Screenshot by Michelle Starr/CNET Australia)

SpaceX founder Elon Musk has revealed a plan to set up an 80,000-strong human colony on Mars.

For just US$500,000 per head, anyone could join Elon Musk's mission to colonise the Red Planet. He revealed his plan to London's Royal Aeronautical Society on Friday, 16 November, saying that Mars was ripe for terraforming.

In his plan, a scouting team of less than 10 people would be first sent in a reusable rocket with equipment to set up the colony: machines for creating an atmosphere and fertilising the soil of Mars, as well as producing water, and, of course, construction materials. Once the colony was underway, Mars could be opened up as a destination, with Musk estimating around 80,000 people heading up.

In an interview with Wired magazine, Musk further detailed his plans:

I started with a crazy idea to spur the national will. I called it the Mars Oasis missions. The idea was to send a small greenhouse to the surface of Mars, packed with dehydrated nutrient gel that could be hydrated on landing. You'd wind up with this great photograph of green plants and red background — the first life on Mars, as far as we know, and the farthest that life's ever travelled. It would be a great money shot — plus, you'd get a lot of engineering data about what it takes to maintain a little greenhouse and keep plants alive on Mars. If I could afford it, I figured it would be a worthy expenditure of money, with no expectation of financial return.

According to, the estimated cost of the mission would be around US$36 billion.

Of course, Musk isn't the only person this year to propose Mars colonisation: in August, a Dutch company proposed Mars One, a manned mission that would become a televised reality show.

Neither proposal mentioned if there would be an attempt to replicate Earth's gravity, since low-gravity conditions considerably weaken human skeletons, or what kind of protection would be offered against solar radiation. And are there even 80,000 people on Earth with US$500,000 to spare? At this point, we can probably make the assumption that it's just a castle in the sky.


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rodney1956 posted a comment   

The physical bodies and psychology, as well as technology, we possess now or will possess in the foreseeable future are not well suited to prolonged space travel (e.g. our brains and bodies are vulnerable to radiation, muscle and bone loss, abnormal psychology, etc. when travelling in space … and simply reaching nearby stars would take hundreds or thousands of years). However, there is an alternative to astronauts (or cosmonauts, or taikonauts) reaching Mars and being unable to walk, or think clearly. We can thank the theories of Albert Einstein, an electrical engineering experiment conducted at Yale University in 2009, and some conclusions that logically follow from Einstein/Yale, for pointing the way to this alternative. When fully developed, the “Einstein-Yale Bridge” will take us anywhere in the universe and anywhen in time.

Gravity and light are 2 basic parts of the universe. Could Einstein's aim of uniting electromagnetism (light is one form of this) and gravitation be related to electrical engineering's Optical Effect which says that, on silicon chip-and transistor-scales, light can attract and repel itself like electric charges/magnets. Achievement of Einstein's Gravitational-Electromagnetic Equivalence means gravity could, on quantum levels, also attract and repel itself. General Relativity says gravity is the warping of space-time, so space and time could be made to attract and repel at quantum levels (and quantum levels make up all time plus the entire universe). Distances between points billions of light years apart, or between the past and future, might therefore be eliminated. Suppose Einstein was correct in believing gravitation and electromagnetism are related. Then we might be able to say electromagnetism is merely modified gravitation. Suppose he was also correct when he said gravitation plays a role in the constitution of elementary particles (proposed in a 1919 submission to the Prussian Academy of Sciences). Not only would the Higgs field and boson become history; gravity might also play a role in constituting the nuclear strong and weak forces that allows us to say the nuclear forces are modified gravitation, too. Then there would not be 4 fundamental forces, or even the 2 of gravitation and electromagnetism, but only the 1 called gravitation. Would this 1 force introduce a Unified Field Theory and a Theory of Everything? True, there are plenty of unproven possibilities here – but I suspect Einstein will sooner or later leave modern science far behind, and show himself to be perhaps centuries ahead of his time.

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