Elon Musk’s vision for building a self-sustaining city on Mars -- the next giant leap for humanity -- will require full rocket reusability, refuelling the spacecraft in orbit and propellant production on the Red Planet, Bloomberg reports.
Speaking at a 67th International Astronautical Congress in Guadalajara, Mexico, Musk laid out a path that would continually drive down cost until almost anyone could buy a ticket -- roughly $200,000 at first, dropping to $100,000 over time.
Musk envisions several ships, each with about 100 passengers, making the voyage until there’s ultimately a Martian city of 1 million people. Flights could start within a decade “if things go super-well,” he said. The project will need very large funding.
Musk isn’t alone in the pursuit. The National Aeronautics and Space Administration has its own “Journey to Mars” program, which calls for sending American astronauts to the Red Planet in the 2030s. Lockheed Martin Corp. has a NASA contract to build Orion, a spacecraft for deep space exploration.
Mask's SpaceX is already scheduling “Red Dragon” missions to explore Mars. Those missions will inform the design of the SpaceX Interplanetary Transport System, which includes a rocket with 42 Raptor engines and a larger spacecraft to ferry people to Mars and beyond.
Musk showed a four-minute animated video during his presentation that revealed how the Interplanetary Transport System would work:
...and discussed the long-term technical challenges that need to be solved to support the creation of a permanent, self-sustaining human presence on Mars: