SpaceX CEO Elon Musk, who has repeatedly not just expressed his interest in a human civilization on Mars, but also called it a necessity has given a timeline in which it actually may be possible. He has stated a Martian city supporting a local population can be set up over a period of 20 years and 1,000 Starships to transport the people and resources needed.
"A thousand ships will be needed to create a sustainable Mars city...as the planets align only once every two years...So it will take about 20 years to transfer a million tons to Mars Base Alpha, which is hopefully enough to make it sustainable," Elon Musk stated in a string of tweets.
Musk wants to make humans an interplanetary species and has consistently advocated for it. He is now revealing plans with concise measurements of timeline and needs. It may sound ambitious, but that has been the case for all his ventures starting from Tesla to SpaceX to Hyperloop and the Boring company.
Musk's model of reusable rockets such as the SpaceX Starship may actually make settling a colony on Mars feasible. He commented at the US Air Force startup pitch event earlier this week in California that the cost may come down to $2 million per Starship flight. He stated that cargo, people and infrastructure can all be transported to Mars.
According to Musk, a Starship will be able to fly three times in a day. Planetary alignment only allows for a flight to Mars only every two years. SpaceX's Falcon rockets, Musk claims can transport 100 tons to orbit and the company may be able to launch 10 million tons to orbit every year.
For it to be commercially feasible, Musk will need clients to scale up. NASA has set up 2024 as the date for sending the first crewed spaceship to Mars.
The paradigm is ambitious, and to see it succeed will be nothing less than glorious.