SpaceX CEO Elon Musk continues to make a push for feasible space travel, and recently he revealed how exactly he wants to do it and how much it will cost. In an article published on New Space, Musk stated that he wants to encourage people to start a new civilization on Mars by drastically reducing the cost of getting there.
“You cannot create a self-sustaining civilization if the ticket price is $10 billion per person,” wrote Musk. “If we can get the cost of moving to Mars to be roughly equivalent to a median house price in the United States, which is around $200,000, then I think the probability of establishing a self-sustaining civilization is very high. I think it would almost certainly occur.”
In order to get the cost of flying to Mars down to a reasonable price, Musk says the issue of fueling must be addressed first. Musk suggests that Mars should be able to produce fuel for the ship once it arrives from Earth, that way it can fill up and power itself back to Earth for the next round of people. This allows ships to be used more than once, rather than constructing a new ship every time a group of people is set to launch into orbit.
“Now, this is harder—reusability does not apply quite as much to Mars because the number of times that you can reuse the spaceship pod of the system is less often because the Earth– Mars rendezvous only occurs every 26 months,” writes Musk. “Therefore, you get to use the spaceship part approximately every 2 years.”
Musk goes on to write that one day, he hopes to have flight times to Mars only last 30 days, allowing for more people to travel to the planet if they’re willing to pay up. Musk also states that he hopes to have this entire system in place by 2023 and that one day, we’ll be able to travel even further than Mars.
“Therefore, you could travel out to the Kuiper Belt, to the Oort cloud. I would not recommend this for interstellar journeys, but this basic system—provided we have filling stations along the way—means full access to the entire greater solar system.”