SpaceX founder Elon Musk recently said that building a sustainable colony on Mars will set up humanity for interstellar travel. He believes that if humans build a self-sustaining colony on the Red Planet it could help ensure humanity’s long-term survival as a species. SpaceX is working to develop a fully reusable Starship launch system at the South Texas Starbase launch site. The company is preparing to conduct the first orbital flight test in early 2022. Musk aims to have a space-ready Starship spacecraft and Super Heavy rocket by 2023. If all goes as planned, the earliest inter-planet Starship cargo spaceflights could take place as soon as 2024 or 2026, when the orbits of Earth and Mars line up; both planets get closer to eachother every 26 months.
Distant view of the launch complex:— Starship Gazer (@StarshipGazer) December 17, 2021
4:52 pm 12/17/21 pic.twitter.com/qKeu3UpU8y
Musk calculates that if SpaceX manufacturers a fleet of 1,000 Starships within the next 20 years to launch megatons of cargo and hundreds of humans to the Martian surface, humanity could achieve a self-sustaining Mars colony by the year 2050. A fleet of Starships could launch every 26 months with all the necessary equipment so the first Mars settlers could build the foundation of humanity’s second home planet. “In order for life to become multi-planetary, we’ll need maybe 1,000 ships, or something like that,” Musk said in November during an event with the U.S. National Academy of Sciences meeting. “Long term, it’s essential for preserving the light of consciousness. Eventually something will happen to Earth, hopefully not soon, either natural or man-made that would cause the end of civilization. The probable lifespan of civilization is much greater if we’re a multi-planet species.”
Achieving a sustainable colony on Mars will be a stepping stone for humans to attempt interstellar travel because all the technologies that enabled humans to survive sustainably on the Red Planet will be useful for exploring beyond our Solar System. Musk hopes that humans could one day be capable of crossing ‘The Great Filter,’ which is a philosophical concept related to the probability of a species reaching an advanced-enough technological stage that enables them to explore beyond their Solar System before going extinct. ‘The Great Filter’ is whatever prevents intelligent life to explore and expand across the universe to spread ‘lasting’ life. –“If we are able to make life self-sustaining on Mars, we will have passed one of the greatest filters. That then sets us up to become interstellar,” Musk said, “ Earth is ~4.5B [billion] years old, but life is still not multiplanetary and it is extremely uncertain how much time is left to become so,” he wrote via Twitter.
If we are able to make life self-sustaining on Mars, we will have passed one of the greatest filters. That then sets us up to become interstellar.— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) November 24, 2021
Earth is ~4.5B years old, but life is still not multiplanetary and it is extremely uncertain how much time is left to become so.
Featured Image Source: SpaceX