SpaceX inventor Elon Musk is brilliant but also pretty nuts. He has his eye on a piece of real estate on Mars for a colony that would accommodate around 80,000 people. Considering NASA just landed the Curiosity Rover, we might be putting the cart before the horse here.
This colony is still pretty far off from becoming a real thing, but Musk is already talking plans. They'd start small, ferrying just 10 people at a time to see if living on the Red Planet is viable. Hey, if they all croak in space, it's fine because at least the other 79,990 people avoided certain death. And the willing colonisers would need tons of equipment — construction materials to build transparent domes to live in that will be pressurised in a way that allow them to grow crops, as well as machines that will make fertiliser.
In order to actually get people out there, SpaceX wants to build a reusable rocket loosely based on the Falcon 9 booster — the launcher for Dragon. It would have a special staged combustion cycle engine called Raptor that would produce hot high-pressure gasses that push propellant into the combustion chamber of the engine. The whole plan is estimated to cost a staggering $US36 million, which actually sounds like a bargain, considering there is currently no way to support life on Mars.
Interested? Start saving now. A ticket will cost you $US500,000. The surprising part is that Musk thinks this is relatively affordable. Are there even 80,000 people with enough money and chutzpah to sign up for this? Again, Elon Musk is kind of crazy. But at least it's in the adorable mad scientist kind of way. [Discovery]