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Elon Musk on travelling to Mars: ‘a bunch of people will probably die’

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Elon Musk might already be planning to send humans to Mars by 2026, but warns that “a bunch of people will probably die” in the beginning stages of the process.

The billionaire’s SpaceX company hopes to have the first colony of people living on Mars by 2030, and an ambitious target of one million people by 2050.

“Going to Mars reads like that ad book for (explorer Ernest) Shackleton going to the Antarctic,” Musk told People in an interview that streamed live on YouTube on Thursday (April 22). “It’s dangerous, it’s uncomfortable, it’s a long journey. You might not come back alive. But it’s a glorious adventure, and it’ll be an amazing experience.”

He continued: “You might die… and you probably won't have good food and all these things. It’s an arduous and dangerous journey where you may not come back alive, but it’s a glorious adventure. Sounds appealing. Mars is the place. That’s the ad, that’s the ad for Mars.”

With applications to take part in a journey to the Red Planet open to the public, Musk said: “I mean, honestly, a bunch of people probably will die in the beginning,” he said. “It‘s tough sledding over there, you know? … We don‘t want to make anyone go, so… Volunteers only.”

While the risk of death is certainly a deterrent, especially in the early stages of exploring the Red Planet, new research by NASA looks promising. On April 25, the space agency captured the first-ever colour image of the planet and has successfully conducted an experiment to create oxygen on the planet’s surface.

Architecture studio ABIBOO has also revealed its plans to create the first self-sustainable city on the Red Planet, which is set to be ready for residents in 2100. The city will be called Nüwa, and will be located at Tempe Mensa on one of the Martian cliffs. Its position inside of a rock on the steep cliff will protect its 250,000 residents from radiation and meteorites, while still giving them access to indirect sunlight.

Speaking to Dazed in a previous interview, Mars Society president Robert Zubrin said: “The idea was to create not just a base where a lot of science can be supported, but to create a society which will only grow if people want to live there.”