SpaceX founder Elon Musk has revealed plans to build a "self-sustaining city" on Mars and make humans a "multi-planetary species" within our lifetimes – and said manned missions to the Red Planet could begin as soon as 2022.
Musk unveiled plans for an “interplanetary transport system” to colonise the planet during an address at the International Astronautical Congress meeting in Mexico. He said the project would likely be funded by a public-private partnership.
The proposals include a new 100-person reusable SpaceX rocket that would stand at more than 300 feet tall and take 80 days to reach Mars.
In order to successfully establish a colony, Musk has said four criteria would need to be met, including the full reusability of the spacecraft involved, re-fuelling enabled in orbit, producing propellant on Mars and choosing the right fuel to begin with.
“It’s a huge amount of risk, it’s going to cost a lot, there’s a good chance we won’t succeed but we’re going to do our best,” Musk was reported to have said.
Musk said the major obstacle to enticing people to make an inter-planetary move would be the cost and proposed the price of a ticket would need to be around $200,000 (£154,000).
However, he added that because of a high risk of fatality in the first mission, one of the criteria for taking part is "you are prepared to die".
SpaceX plans to have the first spaceship developed and tested in suborbital flights by 2020.
At the beginning of this month, SpaceX suffered a major setback when one of its rockets exploded during pre-launch testing and destroyed Facebook's first satellite which was due to be entered into orbit.