For the last few years, Jeff Bezos has been the richest person in the world — even after losing a large chunk of his fortune in a divorce. That changed this week when a Tesla stock surge made Elon Musk the world’s richest man. In celebration, he’s not going to Disneyland. Nope, Elon Musk is apparently very serious about living on Mars, and he wants to bring a million people along for the ride.
After Musk officially became the world’s most successful capitalist on Thursday, he pinned a 2018 tweet to his Twitter page announcing his intention to use his wealth to start a colony on Mars. According to a recent interview, that’s also why he’s selling all his property, including a home that once belonged to Gene Wilder. Oh, it might have a little something with Musk moving to Texas for tax reasons, but he’ll tell you it’s about Mars.
Founding a colony on the red planet won’t be easy or cheap, but Elon Musk does have $188 billion. That includes stock and assets he probably cannot sell, but he’s not hurting for cash, either. SpaceX and the in-development Starship rocket are key to Musk’s plans. By 2050, Musk has said he hopes to have a fleet of 1,000 Starships with three vessels launching every day.
The Starship is still a long way from carrying passengers, but Musk believed we’re only years away from setting foot on Mars.
Musk has talked about the cost of a trip to Mars, most recently pegging the cost around $500,000. For well-to-do Americans, that’s in reach if you sell everything you have on Earth as Musk claims to be doing. For everyone else, Musk says there will be loans. However, I am still unconvinced of the wisdom of going into debt to travel to a billionaire’s private planet where there are no laws. I have read this sci-fi novel, and it doesn’t end well.
This all feels much more real today — the richest single person on Earth wants to go to Mars. He can probably make that happen thanks to the unfathomable wealth at his disposal. Whether or not it’s a good idea is another story. NASA has spoken generally about its plans for Mars, which could include a crewed mission in the 2030s. NASA is more cautious because, for one, it doesn’t have billions of dollars burning a hole in its proverbial pocket. There are also a lot of unknowns about living on Mars. The low gravity and high radiation could make long-term colonization dangerous or impossible until technology advanced considerably. And yet, Elon Musk seems dead-set on going to Mars sooner rather than later.