Tesla Motors founder and private space exploration entrepreneur Elon Musk says millions of people could be headed to Mars aboard rocket-propelled space colonies in as little as 10 years.
Musk, who is also the founder of Space X, a space transport company that is already building rockets for NASA, told CBS this week that the technology to send colonists to Mars is coming along much sooner than anticipated, and that we could see potential colonization missions in the next 10 to 12 years.
“We need to develop a much larger vehicle, which would be a sort of Mars colonial transport system, and this would be, we’re talking about rockets on a bigger scale than has ever been done before,” Musk explained. “It will make the Apollo moon rocket look small.”
“That’s what’s needed to ultimately send millions of people and millions of tons of cargo to Mars, which is the minimum level to have a self-sustaining civilization on Mars,” Musk said.
But before NASA and the United States can even think about Mars, they need to develop their own proprietary space transport to at the very least achieve low-Earth orbit, according to Musk. That capability ended with the retirement of the Orbiter Space Shuttle fleet, and American astronauts since have had to pay for expensive rides on the Russian Soyuz space capsule just to reach the International Space Station.
After developing proprietary space transport tech and accomplishing a test run to the moon, Musk says we’ll be ready to discuss Mars, and his company is already leading the way. According to Musk, Space X will have an ISS-ready transport up and running in two years. After that, not even the sky will be the limit.