Elon Musk teases SpaceX plan to colonize Mars

Image: Mars Colonial Transporter
An animation shows a lander separating from the rest of the Mars Colonial Transporter. Later concepts suggest that the entire MCT would land as a unit. (Credit: Michel Lamontagne / ESA via YouTube)

SpaceX’s billionaire founder, Elon Musk, is providing increasingly detailed previews of his plan to send colonists to Mars starting in 2024, more than a decade in advance of NASA’s Red Planet timetable. But there’s one part of the plan that’s not yet clear: how to bring people back.

“It’s dangerous and probably people will die – and they’ll know that,” Musk told The Washington Post this week. “And then they’ll pave the way, and ultimately it will be very safe to go to Mars, and it will be very comfortable. But that will be many years in the future.”

The journey starts getting real in September, when Musk is due to lay out his detailed Mars colonization plan at the International Astronautical Congress in Mexico. “This is going to be mind-blowing,” he said. “Mind-blowing. It’s going to be really great.” (Careful, Elon … you’re starting to sound a little Trumpish there.)

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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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