With the successful landing of the Mars Science Laboratory rover Curiosity, it is not surprising to see the increased attention given to Mars. But one space pioneer has had his sights set on Mars for quite some time.
Elon Musk, the billionaire entrepreneur who co-created online payment service PayPal, founded Tesla motor sports, and founded leading private space company SpaceX, is vocal about his desire to go to Mars as soon as possible. But as ABC News explains, he isn’t just looking to take people there. He wants to make it possible for people to “thrive there and even establish businesses.” In December 2011, Musk told New Scientist, that he “wants to put 10,000 people on Mars.” He went on to say, “Ultimately we don’t really want 10,000 people on Mars . . . We want millions.” And he claims he can do it for as little as $2 billion.
SpaceX has already achieved major milestones. In May 2012, the company’s Dragon spacecraft became the first commercial spacecraft to successfully dock with the International Space Station. In a relatively short period of time, SpaceX has established itself as a leader in spaceflight technology. The company has secured contracts with NASA, and even funding. On August 3, NASA announced partnerships with three private space companies (SpaceX being one, Boeing and Sierra Nevada being the other two) “to design and develop the next generation of U.S. human spaceflight capabilities.” The partnership includes funding by NASA, providing SpaceX with $440 million.
In an interview on ABC’s Nightline on August 6, Musk explained that making the move to Mars affordable is crucial for colonization to occur. He stated, “We know it’s possible to get there. The question is a much more difficult one, which is, ‘Can we make a trip to Mars affordable for the average person in the United States.’ You would be moving to Mars, so I think ‘affordable’ has to be no more than half a million dollars. I know it is possible.”
The Mars Society presented Musk with the Mars Pioneer Award on Saturday, August 4 during their 15th Annual International Mars Society Convention in Pasadena, California. The Society acknowledged Musk because of his “strong dedication to and support of the goal of human exploration and settlement of the planet Mars.”
Musk estimates his company will be ready to send Americans to Mars in twelve to fifteen years.
Watch Nightline‘s interview with Elon Musk here – http://youtu.be/rWjZXi7IdIE
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