SpaceX founder Elon Musk has long dreamt of making life multiplanetary by building a fleet of reusable Starships to enable humans to build ‘Mars Base Alpha’, the first permanent colony on the Red Planet. Musk envisions creating a self-sustaining civilization on Mars within 20 years. "I hope there is a self-sustaining city on Mars in 20 years!" he said via Twitter on August 13. He has said on multiple occasions that he would like to "die on Mars."
I hope there is a self-sustaining city on Mars in 20 years!— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) August 14, 2022
Since SpaceX’s founding in 2002, Musk's ultimate goal has been to be capable of returning astronauts to the Moon and building a colony on Mars. The photograph linked above of Musk playing maracas with a Mariachi band was captured when the company was celebrating its founding. At that time, Musk was disappointed that NASA had not returned astronauts to the Moon since 1972 and had not landed any humans on Mars so he devised a philanthropic plan to develop rockets and reignite public excitement for space exploration. When he founded SpaceX, he had an idea of launching the first plant on a rover to the Red Planet, however, the company has not launched this plant to Mars yet, but has since achieved so much towards that goal. SpaceX has developed the world's most reliable Falcon 9 and Falcon Heavy rockets and is capable of reusing the first-stage. SpaceX also returned human spaceflight capabilities to the United States in 2020; NASA had not launched astronauts from American soil since 2011 when the agency retired the Space Shuttle.
SpaceX is in the process of developing Starship to return NASA astronauts to the Moon as part of the Artemis program by 2025 and plans to land the first astronauts on Mars soon after. Musk says that Starship represents the "Holy Grail" of rocket technology because a fully-reusable rocket has never been developed and full reusability is needed in order to launch megatons of cargo the the Martian surface in order to build a self-sustaining settlement. The stainless-steel methane-fueled spacecraft will be fully-reusable, capable of launching 100 tons to Low Earth Orbit and 100 passengers on a long-duration voyage to Mars.
The company is preparing to launch the first-ever Starship prototype to orbit from the Starbase facility in Texas this year, achieving this will be a huge milestone towards advancing the launch system's development.
Musk believes Starship is the "key to preserving the light of consciousness," if a catastrophic event were to threaten life on Earth. He says SpaceX will build a fleet of 1,000 reusable Starships within the next 20 years that could be used as a ‘futuristic Noah’s Ark’ that will expand life to the Red Planet. A reference to The Holy Bible story of Noah, who built a massive sea-going vessel to save animals and plants from a massive flood. “The goal overall has been to make life multi-planetary and enable humanity to become a spacefaring civilization,” Musk says. “And the next really big thing is to build a self-sustaining city on Mars and bring the animals and creatures of Earth there. Sort of like a futuristic Noah’s ark. We’ll bring more than two, though – it’s a little weird if there’s only two,” he said in December 2021 during an interview with TIME.
All Featured Images Source: SpaceX