Who Is Elon Musk?
Elon Reeve Musk (born June 28, 1971) is a South African-born American entrepreneur and businessman who founded X.com in 1999 (which later became PayPal), SpaceX in 2002 and Tesla Motors in 2003. Musk became a multimillionaire in his late 20s when he sold his start-up company, Zip2, to a division of Compaq Computers. Musk made headlines in May 2012, when SpaceX launched a rocket that would send the first commercial vehicle to the International Space Station. He bolstered his portfolio with the purchase of SolarCity in 2016, and cemented his standing as a leader of industry by taking on an advisory role in the early days of President Donald Trump’s administration.
In September 2017, Musk presented an updated design plan for his BFR (an acronym for either “Big F—ing Rocket” or “Big Falcon Rocket”), a 31-engine behemoth topped by a spaceship capable of carrying at least 100 people. He revealed that SpaceX was aiming to launch the first cargo missions to Mars with the vehicle in 2022, as part of his overarching goal of colonizing the Red Planet.
Elon Musk has talked about personally heading to Mars before, but how likely is he to make the trip, really? Well, he just put a number on it. In an interview for the Axios on HBO documentary series, Musk said there was a “70 percent” chance he’ll go to Mars. There have been a “recent number of breakthroughs” that have made it possible, he said. And as he hinted before, it’d likely be a one-way trip — he expects to “move there.”
The executive also rejected the idea that traveling to Mars could be an “escape hatch for the rich” in its current form. He noted that an ad for going to Mars would be “like Shackleton’s ad for going to the Antarctic,” which (though likely not real) made clear how dangerous and the South Pole journey was. Even if you make it to Mars, you’ll spend all your time building the base and struggling to survive harsh conditions, Musk said. And while it might be possible to come back, it’s far from guaranteed. As with climbing Everest, Musk believes it’s all about the “challenge.”
He might have some reasons to be optimistic. Much of his trust no doubt revolves around the Starship (née BFR) and his broader vision for Mars, but there has also been work on habitats, food and power sources that could make it viable to stay on the Red Planet for extended periods. While the ingredients haven’t all fallen into place, it may be more a question of when people can go rather than whether it’ll happen at all.