This week, Elon Musk of SpaceX announced his plans for getting humanity to Mars. The plans involve massive rockets, trips by 100 passengers every 26 months, and deliveries of supplies and housing — all with an ultimate goal of establishing an independent, self-sustaining colony on the Red Planet.
There’s still a lot of details in Musk’s ambitious plans to be filled in — like figuring out how in the heck the massive rocket is going to paid for, and how they are going to get materials sufficient to keep 100 people alive for months on a planet that is basically a cold desert. Critics think the Musk plans, in their current form, are implausible. They almost certainly are, of course. The key point, though, is that somebody is actually thinking about how to accomplish passenger space travel and is doing something about it.
Musk isn’t the only one who is thinking about space. SpaceX has shown that there is commercial value in space, and Jeff Bezos, the multi-billionaire founder of Amazon, has his own space development company with plans to launch satellites . . . and ultimately, people who would colonize the solar system. NASA, too, is proceeding with Mars mission planning.
We seem to be on the cusp of a tipping point, where talk about colonizing Mars is moving from the dreams and visions of science fiction writers to fundraising, timetables, and engineering reality. In my view, it’s about time. Whereas Musk thinks we need a colony on Mars to protect our species from extinction through a cataclysmic event on Earth, I think we need to get a toehold in space to change our Earthbound perspectives, broaden our horizons, and reintroduce an explorer’s mentality to our world.
It’s good to see internet billionaires using some of their cash to open new worlds and opportunities to humanity. We may not know what’s out there, yet, but let’s find out!