Elon Musk promises 'fun' trip to Mars colony

Elon Musk's plan for getting to Mars.YOUTUBE
A screenshot from a SpaceX video showing how the trip to Mars would be made.
A screenshot from a SpaceX video showing how the trip to Mars would be made.PHOTO: YOUTUBE

GUADALAJARA, Mexico (AFP) - SpaceX chief executive officer Elon Musk on Tuesday (Sept 27) unveiled his plans for establishing a human colony on Mars, using a massive rocket and a fleet of spaceships to achieve a self-sustaining population on the Red Planet this century.

Speaking at the International Astronautical Congress in the western Mexican city of Guadalajara, Musk showed a futuristic video depicting his ideas for an interplanetary transport system based on re-usable rockets, a propellant farm on Mars and 1,000 spaceships on orbit, carrying about 100 people each.

The spacecraft would have a restaurant, cabins, zero-gravity games and movies.

"It has to be fun or exciting. It can't feel cramped or boring," he said.

The first flight would be expensive but the aim is "making this affordable to almost anyone who wants to go," by dropping the price of a ticket over time to US$100,000 (S$135,000), Musk said.

Millions of tonnes of cargo would also need to blast off aboard a powerful rocket, which he described as a "scaled-up version of the Falcon 9 booster," the company's current rocket system that can land vertically.

Reducing cost would be another key hurdle to establishing a human civilisation on Mars, he said before an overflow crowd at an expo centre with a few thousand seats.

"We aim to improve the cost per tonne to Mars by five million per cent," Musk said.

"You can't create a self-sustaining civilisation on Mars if the ticket price is US$10 billion per person."

SpaceX has said it plans to send an unmanned Dragon cargo capsule to Mars as early as 2018, paving the way for a human mission that would leave Earth in 2024 and arrive on the Red Planet the following year.