Elon Musk’s Mars plan sparks a nerd fight

Image: Musk in Dragon
SpaceX’s Elon Musk sits in a Crew Dragon capsule during its unveiling in 2014. (Credit: SpaceX)

Is SpaceX founder Elon Musk crazy to press ahead with plans to send people to Mars? Or crazy like a fox? A rehash of discouraging words from astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson has sparked a renewed debate over Musk’s grand plan.

Tyson’s pronouncements actually date back to last November, when he told The Verge in an interview that people were deluding themselves if they thought private enterprise alone could send people to Mars.

“The delusion is thinking that SpaceX is going to lead the space frontier,” Tyson said. “That’s just not going to happen.”

He explained that interplanetary spaceflight is just too expensive and risky, with too little of an initial return on investment, to make sense as a private venture. “A government has a much longer horizon over which it can make investments,” Tyson said. (He told Larry King pretty much the same thing months earlier.)

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By Alan Boyle

Mastermind of Cosmic Log, contributor to GeekWire and Universe Today, author of "The Case for Pluto: How a Little Planet Made a Big Difference," past president of the Council for the Advancement of Science Writing.

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