SpaceX aims to build a fleet of 1,000 Starships over the course of 10 years in order to send 1 million people to Mars by 2050. “In order to create a self-sustaining city on Mars, I think you will need something on the order of a thousand ships,” says SpaceX founder Elon Musk. He believes a million people are needed on the Red Planet to ensure there is enough population to work on everything that is necessary to survive and create a self-sustaining city.
The Starship fleet will be funded by the people who purchase a ticket to Mars. In a conversation with the head of TED conferences Chris Anderson, Musk said the price for a ticket to Mars should be affordable enough to attract one million people. He gave a hypothetical price point of $100,000 USD per ticket. "If moving to Mars costs, for argument's sake, $100,000, then I think almost anyone can work and save up and eventually have $100,000 and be able to go to Mars if they want," Musk said. "We want to make it available to anyone who wants to go." The TED interview video is linked at the end of this story.
“I think only a small percentage of humanity will want to go, and can afford to go or get sponsorship in some manner. [...] I think governments will be able to pay for it and people can take out loans,” Musk said. “It is very important to emphasize that Mars, especially in the beginning, will not be luxurious. It will be dangerous, cramped, difficult, hard work […] you might not make it back … but it will be glorious,” he added.
In 2019, Musk calculated that SpaceX could provide a round trip to Mars for a price tag between $100,000 and $500,000 USD per seat. Starship will be capable of transporting 100 passengers. Musk says that the ticket price will be - “Very dependent on volume, but I’m confident moving to Mars (return ticket is free) will one day cost less than $500k & maybe even below $100k. Low enough that most people in advanced economies could sell their home on Earth & move to Mars if they want,” wrote Musk via Twitter.
Very dependent on volume, but I’m confident moving to Mars (return ticket is free) will one day cost less than $500k & maybe even below $100k. Low enough that most people in advanced economies could sell their home on Earth & move to Mars if they want.— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) February 11, 2019
To achieve reducing the cost of spaceflight that much, SpaceX must develop a fully-reusable Starship launch system. SpaceX currently recovers only the first-stage booster of its Falcon 9 rocket to be refurbished to be reused, each of the four seats aboard the Crew Dragon spacecraft costs around $55 million. “[...] So with Starship, we will be recovering the entire thing, Or at least that’s the goal,” said Musk. “Moreover, recovering it in such a way that it can be immediately re-flown. [...] So you just refill propellants and go again.”
“[...] It doesn't use exotic propellants of things that are difficult to obtain on Mars. It uses methane as fuel, and it’s primarily oxygen, roughly 77-78 percent oxygen by weight,” he said. “Mars has a CO2 [Carbon Dioxide] atmosphere and has water ice, which is CO2 plus H2O [water], so you can make CH4, methane, and O2, oxygen, on Mars,” he explained. “[...] It’s 78 percent oxygen, 22 percent fuel. The fuel is a simple fuel easy to create on Mars and in many other parts of the Solar System.” One of the first tasks on Mars will be to create a fuel plant to send some of the Starships back to Earth to be reused and send more supplies to the first Martian settlers. Musk previously said ‘SpaceX will need the Starships back’ and those who want to return to Earth will be able to do so for free.
TED VIDEO: ELON MUSK - 'A Future Worth Getting Excited About'
Let's go! ♡ pic.twitter.com/CaZwhD3AXX— Evelyn Janeidy Arevalo ♡ (@JaneidyEve) April 3, 2022
Featured Image Source: SpaceX
About the Author
Evelyn Janeidy Arevalo
Evelyn J. Arevalo joined Tesmanian in 2019 to cover news as a Space Journalist and SpaceX Starbase Texas Correspondent. Evelyn is specialized in rocketry and space exploration. The main topics she covers are SpaceX and NASA.