Space X boss Musk Unveils Plan to ‘Terraform’ Mars

Space X founder Elon Musk has unveiled his company’s ambitious plan of sending a manned mission to Mars in 10 or 20 years and eventually starting to build metropolis-like colonies on the Red Planet.

In his presentation at the Royal Aeronautical Society in London last month, Musk said Space X is already working on the blueprint for a possible human kind’s occupation on Mars.

Ever since Musk founded Space X in 2002, the private space transport company has already accomplished several milestones – including its feat of becoming the first private company to send a cargo payload to the International Space Station on May 25, 2002.

And now, Musk and Space X are setting their sight for much greater achievement by sending a man-operated spacecraft to Mars. But Musk is not done yet, the former Paypal and Tesla cars CEO plans to terraform Mars into a planet that could sustain life.

“At Mars, you can start a self-sustaining civilization and grow it into something really big,” Musk told an audience at the Royal Aeronautical Society in London last week.

However, Musk admits the challenges that lie ahead in making his idea into reality would be very daunting and of course expensive. Musk said the colony program would cost up to $36 billion in government and private enterprises funding. He also stressed the use of reusable rocket to at least lessen down the cost.

“Some money has to be spent on establishing a base on Mars. It’s about getting the basic fundamentals in place,” Musk said. “That was true of the English colonies [in the Americas]; it took a significant expense to get things started,” said Musk, who also received a gold medal from Royal Aeronautical Society for contribution to the commercialization of space traveling.

11 Replies to “Space X boss Musk Unveils Plan to ‘Terraform’ Mars”

  1. I think the journalist who titled the article chose the word because it ‘pops’ and is ‘cool’. I don’t think anyone here, or alive, actually thinks terraforming mars is viable ( or even necessary ). SPACE X is just brainstorming on the possibility of installing scientific outposts on the planet. Personally, I don’t even see much of a point in that. Obviously for exploratory reasons deeply routed in human nature, a human walking and living on Mars would be an accomplishment, but rovers and machines can do a much better job at ANY research on the surface of the planet– in addition to less risk of loss of life, and cost of life-sustaining supplies and rations. The future for Mars colonisation, I think, lies in orbital stations. This whole action of entering and escaping planetary scales of gravitational forces and atmospheres is dangerous and cost intensive. I think it’s smarter to maintain an orbit, and watch the robots do the dirty work.

  2. That’s a very pessimistic view.

    Mars’s core has solidified because it doesn’t have enough mass to have an equlibrium temperature co-powered by the heat of crystallization.

    We could get crustal tectonic activity started by beefing up mars, and one of its moons with additional mass.

    Astral engineering is a far stretch of the imagination, for sure, but with sufficient time and enough persistence, we could accomplish those two tasks using robotic tug drones hauling asteroids in.

    The soonest I could see such a task completed is 500 years of work though.

    “Impossible” is a very powerful word, that should be reserved for things like violating the second law of thermodynamics and violating causality. “Very very, astronomically insanely difficult” is a better description of “fixing” mars.

    (It would be easier to fix venus, imho.)

  3. Mars core has crashed into it’s side which makes it impossible to reestablish any consistent type of magnetosphere, which in turn leads to no atmosphere to speak of. Ever.

    Can you have colonies on Mars? Certainly, ++$$. Can you actually get them to be profitable? Mmmaybe. It depends how close the crashed core is to the surface, what’s its composition, drilling costs, etc. It maybe very profitable, but then again – maybe not.

    Will Mars ever be pleasant to live on? NO.

  4. There are ways that this could be accomplished, but it would require a significant investment of time and resources.

    Here is the shortlist of problems mars has:

    1) scarcity of atmosphere.
    2)extreme scarcity of hydrogen
    3) lack of a unified magnetosphere
    4) lack of crustal plate tectonics
    5) irregular seasonal tilt

    These problems all stem from the same 2 parental problems:

    1) mars does not have enough mass.
    2) mars does not have a big moon.

    If you wanted to terraform mars, you would need to fix those two parental problems first. Otherwise, you will be pissing into the wind trying to fix the others.

    That means a slow, dedicated process to collect micro asteroids from the nearby asteroid belt, and then deposit them on mars, and one of mars’s moons. Doing that would take centuries, if not millenia using current technologies. (The most efficient thruster technology we have is an electronically charged plasma thruster, aka, an ion engine. These are very very slow. They shine by being able to burn constantly for a very very very long time. We would have to use these thrusters to power collection probes, which means a very long ROI investment window for each robotic collection drone. A decade or more before the drone returns with cargo.)

    The plus side here is that many asteroids adrift in deep space out there are encrusted with a gemstone, called peridot, which has a large quantity of oxygen bound up in it by molar mass. Burning this mineral up in the atmosphere will release oxygen into the atmosphere. (The other constituents are silicon, and iron/magnesium.) Other bodies in the asteroid belt are made of ammonia ice, water ice, and pals. Those are the more desired materials, since they add hydrogen and nitrogen, and water respectively.

    In order for it to work, we would have to be depositing material onto mars faster than the sun can blast it off with cosmic rays. On the order of many hundreds of tons per day. That is a very tall order. It would take many thousands of probes working continual duty cycles to keep up.

    Very hard, but not impossible if you do it smartly, and throw a lot of money at it.

  5. Way to turn something completely non-politcal in to the potential for a good old mudsling contest. Way to go slugger…

    … seriously though… if you want to bitch about the government, take it somewhere else. I came here to read a science article and comments about it, not a bitchfest about the government.

  6. … and how much did Obama’s ‘stimulus’ program cost us? Much much more than the $36billion that this would cost. We could have been well on our way if just a small portion of the the wasted billions had funded this project.

  7. it can come true if we are willing to recycle our planets nukes we have enough to build several hundred atmospheric processor,s uranium is packet full of energy.curiosity runs on it,lots of uranium on mars i bet and other minerals we can use and i bet there a lot of hydrocarbons or methane locked up in huge amounts underneath mars.and you can put the nukes to good use

  8. Putting people on Mars, no matter how many you put there or how big their colony gets, is not terraforming. Terraforming is specifically altering the whole planet to more closely resemble Earth.

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