Elon Musk is over Earth.
That, at least, appears to be the thesis of his planned talk at the upcoming 67th International Astronautical Congress, which will take place on September 27 in Guadalajara, Mexico. His much anticipated keynote address, which bears the title “Making Humans a Multiplanetary Species,” is slated to address the challenges and “potential architectures for colonizing the Red Planet,” organizers say. Because it’s no longer enough to just talk about going to Mars — we have to have a plan for what to do once we arrive, too.
Though Musk recognizes how far-fetched his idea may sound, the entrepreneur has already proven many skeptics wrong with a number of his companies. His SpaceX, after all, has revolutionized space travel, and even some of his concepts to which he hasn’t devoted much energy (like the Hyperloop) appear to be coming to fruition. Last April, he admitted that colonizing Mars would “sound pretty crazy,” but that was before he managed to launch a rocket into space and then land it on a floating drone in the Atlantic. Four times.
The time is certainly ripe for Musk to be exploring options on Mars. NASA has certainly devoted more time and energy to the endeavor, and Ashwin Vasavada of NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory told Bloomberg, “The enthusiasm and momentum for sending humans to Mars is higher than it’s ever been. Technologically, it doesn’t seem that far out of reach. We can see a path.”
After all, not so long ago, sending humans to the moon also seemed out of reach, Vasavada noted. “It just comes down to making the effort. In the 1960s, it was all about world politics. That’s what drove us to get to the moon,” he added. “With Mars, we’ve struggled to find the driver that’s going to make it worth the investment.”
And SpaceX (and Musk) are certainly willing to make the investment. Already, the plan is for an unmanned spacecraft to journey to the Red Planet by 2018, and Musk hopes that humans will set foot upon our terrestrial neighbor by 2025. And on Tuesday, we may just learn more of what Musk has in store for humanity off of planet Earth.
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