SpaceX plan agenda is to zoom off into space, according to Elon Musk Tuesday. He said that he was aiming to colonize Mars by 2022. Hence, he will make 100 people get into a spaceship and then send it off to the Red Planet. The long-term plan is to set up a permanent settlement in Mars.
"I think the first journeys to Mars are going to be really very dangerous. The risk of fatality will be high; there's just no way around it," Musk said at International Astronautical Congress (IAC) in Guadalajara, Mexico. "It would be, basically, 'Are you prepared to die?' If that's OK, then, you know, you're a candidate for going," he said.
But other experts are not as blasé about the plan as he is. Space agencies have taken care to protect other planets from the Earth's germs. There is a NASA department called the Office of Planetary Protection, which is dedicated to that activity.
In the next century, Musk hopes to transport 1 million people to Mars, with the help of the Interplanetary Transport System (ITS). This is a rocket-spaceship that Musk disclosed Tuesday (Sept. 27) at the International Astronautical Congress (IAC) in Guadalajara, Mexico.
NASA scientists have always been cleaning up the spacecraft, wearing white plastic suits. The aim is to ensure that any alien life found in different planets is really alien, not just a hitchhiker's landing spot.
When asked about alien life in Mars, though, Elon Musk declared that he was not worried about it at all.
"There's really nothing on the surface of Mars, I think," the SpaceX CEO said during a press call Tuesday evening. "There may be subterranean, chemotrophic bacteria. I would expect they're pretty hardy, and there's not much that we could do to kick them out even if we wanted to."
Earthlings are too germ-infested, according to many specialists. Emily Lakdawalla said in The Planetary Society: "If we keep our filthy meatbag bodies in space and tele-operate sterile robots on the surface, we'll avoid irreversible contamination of Mars - and obfuscation of the answer to the question of whether we're alone in the solar system - for a little while longer," Lakdawalla wrote in a 2015 blog post. "Maybe just long enough for robots to taste Martian water or discover Martian life."
Moreover, Martian beings poses a danger to humans, just as we do to them, agency scientists said: "All operations of an initial human mission to Mars should include isolation of humans from any direct contact with materials from Mars for planetary protection purposes."
The SpaceX colony would not be just a Hollywood spectacle, but open up the possibility of cultivating plants. By changing the atmosphere, humans can grow life forms on the Red Planet, along with creating oceans too in the whole process of setting up an earth-like ambience, or "terraforming."
"Terraforming would take us a long period of time, and I think, would ultimately be the decision of the people on Mars. We have to get there in the first place," Musk said. "The larger point is creating a self-sustained civilization on Mars to provide insurance for life as a whole - life as we know it."
It doesn't please everyone that Musk asks for prioritizing "life as we know it" rather than aliens.
"I think, really, the planet we should be considering for protection is Earth," he said. "We can bring life as we know it, and breathe life into Mars where it doesn't exist today, and ensure that if there is some kind of cataclysmic event on Earth, that life as we know it continues to exist."
Musk's reasons may sound rather right-wing to a distant civilisation. But he visualises a totally changed world: "I think a future where we are a space-faring civilization and out there among the stars is infinitely more exciting and inspiring than one where we are not," he added.