Elon Musk's totally nuts mission to Mars in nine crazy numbers

Lynsey Barber
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SpaceX Musk mission to Mars
Musk has revealed his grand plans for commercial space travel with SpaceX (Source: SpaceX/YouTube)

Not content with pushing the boundaries for transport on earth with Tesla, prolific entrepreneur Elon Musk is taking his work on SpaceX a step further out of this world... literally.

His ambitious plan to colonise Mars were revealed in not only a highly anticipated event but also a highly detailed one in which Musk laid out ambitious estimates of the costs and timings for making such as journey something almost anyone could do.

Among the pretty grand ambition of making commercial space travel a reality, here are some of the key, astonishing numbers Musk reeled off that shed light on how it might just be achieved.


The date from which Musk hopes to start missions to Mars. It's no mean feat - that's just six years away and three years earlier than his previous estimates. Clearly, the work on SpaceX is going well, despite an incident of an exploding rocket. By this time there will be suborbital flights, though we won't quite have reached Mars.


The decade by which Musk believes a million people will be living on Mars - that's 40 to 50 years away meaning many of us will still be around to see it happen (or even be making a new home on Mars).

100 - 200

The number of people per trip who will travel to Mars on the reusable space ship. To reduce the cost of the journey and increase efficiency, the more the better.


The number of days it will take to get to Mars at first. A near-three month trip may sound long, but that's quicker than the six to nine months it takes current spacecraft to reach the red planet.


The number of days it will take to get to Mars once the whole thing's been optimised, taking into account rocket technology and the orbits of both Earth and Mars lining up (although, the optimum line up comes only every two-ish years).


That's the exact hours, minutes and seconds a day on Mars lasts - 40-odd minutes longer than the Earth day. No word yet on how that weird time difference between planets would work.


The estimate in billions of dollars of how much it would cost to send people to Mars with current technology... per person. "It's a steep price" admits Musk.


That's the price Musk would like to reduce the cost of flying to Mars to, making it affordable for many more people. It's the equivalent of the average median house price in the US, said Musk.

"Almost anyone if they wanted to could save up to move to Mars," he said.


The millions of per cent reduction in cost needed to hit that affordable target.

Musk identified the four areas where innovation could reduce those costs: full reusability of rockets; refilling in orbit; propellant production on Mars and using the right propellant.

While Musk outlined the retail cost of commercial space travel, he did not shed any more light on how making it viable will be funded.

"Obviously it's going to be a challenge to fund this whole endeavour," he admitted.

Watch: Musk's vision for an Interpanetary Transport System that could take people to Mars

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