Billionaire founder of Tesla and SpaceX Elon Musk has unveiled a plan to colonise Mars and make humans a “multiplanetary species”.

The South African-born entrepreneur said he hopes to create a “self-sustaining city” on the Red Planet that would be populated with reusable rockets. He said the price of a ticket would be less than £200,000 per person.

“If we can get the cost of moving to Mars to be the same price as a median-priced house in the US of about $250,000 then I think the probability of establishing a civilization would be relatively high,” said Mr Musk.

The CAD model of SpaceX's methane-propelled martian rocket Credit: SpaceX/YouTube


The CAD model of SpaceX's methane-propelled martian rocket Credit: SpaceX/YouTube

Mr Musk unveiled the scheme to build an extraterrestrial settlement on Mars “in our lifetimes”, which he previously acknowledged was “going to sound pretty crazy”, at the International Astronautical Congress in Mexico.

The Tesla-boss has long held space exploration ambitions and in 2002 he founded SpaceX, a private company tasked with innovating space travel and commercial opportunities.

Bloomberg News On failure: “My mentality is that of a samurai. I would rather commit seppuku than fail.” (Musk explaining himself to a potential investor) On dating: “I need to find a girlfriend. That’s why I need to carve out just a little more time. I think maybe even another five to 10 — how much time does a woman want a week? Maybe 10 hours? That’s kind of the minimum? I don’t know.” On death: “I would like to die on Mars, just not on impact.” Google founder Larry Page on Musk: “He’s kind of homeless, which I think is sort of funny. He’ll e-mail and say, ‘I don’t know where to stay tonight. Can I come over?’ I haven’t given him a key or anything yet.”

Bloomberg News

On failure: “My mentality is that of a samurai. I would rather commit seppuku than fail.” (Musk explaining himself to a potential investor)

On dating: “I need to find a girlfriend. That’s why I need to carve out just a little more time. I think maybe even another five to 10 — how much time does a woman want a week? Maybe 10 hours? That’s kind of the minimum? I don’t know.”

On death: “I would like to die on Mars, just not on impact.”

Google founder Larry Page on Musk: “He’s kind of homeless, which I think is sort of funny. He’ll e-mail and say, ‘I don’t know where to stay tonight. Can I come over?’ I haven’t given him a key or anything yet.”

The project has come under scrutiny after a string of failures from SpaceX’s rockets, including most recently an explosion on takeoff that destroyed a Facebook satellite estimated to be worth more than £150 million.

Mr Musk isn’t the only person with a plan to get to Mars. US presidential hopeful Hillary Clinton has said that one of her aims if elected will be to “to advance our ability to make human exploration of Mars a reality”. Nasa also has a “Journey to Mars” program, which plans to send humans to the planet by the 2030s.

SpaceX's offices when it launched in 2002 Credit: SpaceX/YouTube


SpaceX's offices when it launched in 2002 Credit: SpaceX/YouTube

The SpaceX rocket revealed by Mr Musk could transport 100 people at a time and would take 26 months to reach Mars. He admitted it would take more than 1,000 rockets to create the Martian city.

The company has already begun testing the Falcon 9 rocket booster, which would propel the methane-powered carbon-fibre rocket into orbit. The booster would then return to Earth and collect more fuel before replenishing the orbiting spaceship for its journey to Mars.

SpaceX Falcon 9 lifting off (L) and landing (Photo: Reuters/Mike Brown) Also known as: Space Exploration Technologies Corporation What: A privately funded aerospace company CEO: Elon Musk Founded: June 2002 Headquarters: California Major achievements to date: Successfully launched the Falcon 1 rocket into orbit (2008) Launched, orbited and recovered the Dragon spacecraft (2010) Delivered supplies to the ISS on the unmanned Dragon cargo ship (2012) Launched its first commercial satellite, SES-8, into orbit (2013) Launched DSCOVR - a deep-space observatory that aims to alert people on Earth of potentially dangerous solar activity and geomagnetic storms (2015) Successfully launched and landed the Falcon 9 rocket - a major milestone in the drive to cut costs and waste by making rockets as reusable as planes (2015)

SpaceX Falcon 9 lifting off (L) and landing (Photo: Reuters/Mike Brown)

Also known as:
Space Exploration Technologies Corporation
What:
A privately funded aerospace company
CEO:
Elon Musk
Founded:
June 2002
Headquarters:
California

Major achievements to date:

Successfully launched the Falcon 1 rocket into orbit (2008)
Launched, orbited and recovered the Dragon spacecraft (2010)
Delivered supplies to the ISS on the unmanned Dragon cargo ship (2012)
Launched its first commercial satellite, SES-8, into orbit (2013)
Launched DSCOVR - a deep-space observatory that aims to alert people on Earth of potentially dangerous solar activity and geomagnetic storms (2015)
Successfully launched and landed the Falcon 9 rocket - a major milestone in the drive to cut costs and waste by making rockets as reusable as planes (2015)

Mr Musk said it would be a “challenge to fund this endeavour”, but SpaceX plans to have the first spaceship development and tested in suborbital flights by 2020. It will also send unmanned Dragon spaceships to Mars within two years.

“It’s a huge amount of risk, it’s going to cost a lot, there’s a good chance we won’t succeed but we’re going to do our best,” said Mr Musk.

Source: telegraph.co.uk     Photos: Reuters/Mike Brown; SpaceX/YouTube, Bloomberg News           Video: SpaceX/YouTube

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