Elon Musk: If You Want to Move to Mars, Be Prepared to Die

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Photo: Bloomberg/Getty Images

In a presentation today at the International Astronautical Congress (IAC) in Guadalajara, Mexico, SpaceX CEO Elon Musk laid out his plans for colonizing Mars. According to Musk, it’ll cost you about $200,000 and 80 days to get to the Red Planet. If this sounds appealing to you, you’ll need to convince 999,999 of your closest friends to come along, as Musk estimates it’ll take a million people to create a sustainable society on Mars.

Musk’s presentation was teased by a video from SpaceX, detailing what the company’s Interplanetary Transport System could look like. In the past, parts of this system have been referred to as the “Big Fucking Rocket” and the “Big Fucking Spaceship” (BFR and BFS, respectively), but today, Musk, as he was wrapping up his chat, announced his plans to name the first ship to Mars the Heart of Gold. (That’s a Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy reference; sorry, Neil.) He also noted that the rocket to launch the Mars spaceship, sorry, to launch the Heart of Gold, will come in at 77.5 meters tall, run on methane, and be engineered to be reused 1,000 times, allowing for quick turnover between uses.

As for a timeline, we’re still a ways out from bopping around on Mars. (Also, once we get there, we’ll still have to figure out how to live on a cold, waterless, and rather unwelcoming space rock, a predicament Musk mostly skipped over during today’s presentation.) Musk plans to launch unmanned crafts to the planet by May 2018, and to continue sending ships every few years after, working toward the goal of transporting people. When asked if he intends to be the first man on Mars, Musk said there were definitely pros and cons to consider. “The probability of death is quite high on the first mission, and I’d like to see my kids grow up,” the father of five explained.

Elon Musk: If You Want to Move to Mars, Be Prepared to Die