Elon Musk believes he has a 70% likelihood of flying to Mars despite 'good chance of death'
The 47-year-old founder of Tesla, who is among several businessmen seeking to find a way to reach the red planet, said while some consider his vision a fantasy, he thinks making the journey could be possible in as little as seven years from now, with the price of a ticket as low as “a couple of hundred thousand dollars”.
“I know exactly what to do,” Mr Musk told Axios on HBO. “I’m talking about moving there.”
Mr Musk, who is also involved in a project to build a high-speed mass transit system underneath the streets of Los Angeles, is known for making remarks that frequently secure him both striking headlines and mocking derision.
Yet, in an interview with the programme, he insisted he was being serious in his predictions. He also said he did not see moving to Mars as an escape route for the super rich.
“Your probability of dying on Mars is much higher than Earth,” he said.
“Really, the ad for going to Mars would be like [Sir Ernest] Shackleton’s ad for going to the Antarctic [in the early 20th century].”
He added: “It’s going to be hard. There’s a good chance of death, going in a little through deep space.”
Mr Musk said even if someone was successful in reaching the planet, which at its closest is at least 34 million miles from the Earth, they would be “working nonstop to build the base”.
“So, you know, not much time for leisure. And even after doing all this, it’s a very harsh environment. So....there’s a good chance you die there,” he said.
“We think you can come back but we’re not sure. Now, does that sound like an escape hatch for rich people?”
Yet he said he was determined to try and go.
“There’s lots of people who climb mountains,” he said. “People die on Mount Everest all the time. They like doing it for the challenge.”
Mr Musk is the head of one of several private projects seeing to develop a way to reach Mars. Richard Branson’s Virgin Galactic and Jeff Bezos’s Blue Origin, are among the main competitors.
Last month, Jeff Bezos, the Amazon founder, said he hoped to see the solar system populated by one trillion people.
“The dynamism that I have seen over the last 20 years in the internet where incredible things have happened in really short periods of time,” Mr Bezos, who accepted $500m (£390m) from the US military to help develop his project, said at an event in San Francisco to mark the 25th anniversary of the launch of Wired magazine.
Critics of have seized on the potential implications for the environment of Mr Bezos’s vision, and his willingness to work with the military. His comments came shortly after the UN’s climate science body, the the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), said there was barely a dozen years to make massive changes to global energy infrastructure to limit global warming to moderate levels.
Michael Mann, a climate expert and Professor of Earth Sciences at Penn State University, said it was “sometimes difficult to distinguish real word stories from satire”.
“I know Bezos has been looking for ways to leverage his immense wealth for the betterment of mankind. But I can’t help but wonder why these captains of technology always look away from the earth rather than towards it, when talking about confronting the challenges that face humanity,” he told The Independent.