Work toward semi-sustainable domed cities full of brave human pioneers
2031 - 2040
Once the first homestead has dug into Mars and made at least a temporary place to live, the dominos will really start to fall. Shuttles will go back and forth between Earth and Mars every 26 months when the planets align, with tickets going for around $500,000 -- but this won't be light-hearted space tourism. Think more along the lines of the pioneers who first colonized the Americas, centuries ago.
“It’s not going to be a vacation jaunt,” Musk told Aeon. “It’s going to be saving up all your money and selling all your stuff.” In other words, Space Pilgrims! And to support them, we’ll have to send an estimated 10 supply ships for every one passenger ship, to keep up with the demand of what the Martian humans will need to survive.
What do those supply ships deliver? All the essentials for Martian livin’:
- Energy: Likely nuclear or solar.
- Oxygen: We’ll need to make more oxygen-producing plants within the domes, considering there’s not much to be had on the planet’s surface.
- Water: We’ll eventually need a means to extract water that is frozen at Mars' poles, but in the meantime we’ll just need to ship it in.
- Food: Like water, we’ll need both a way to make it ourselves on Mars, plus additional shipments for immediate consumption.
- The Great Indoors: With no atmosphere, we can’t yet live on the planet’s surface. The first Martian colonists will most likely live in huge domed structures, and as more people come, more materials will be needed.
- Rocket Fuel: Being able to go back and forth means we’ll have to be able to refuel on the planet itself, so we’ll need to be able to produce new fuel, likely methane.
- Internet: To stay connected to Earth, and for your iPhone 19s. SpaceX is already working on this one.
- Other vitals: Supplies for on-planet communication, construction, and medical care.
Once these essentials are taken care of and more and more people are going to (and staying on) Mars, the settlement will take off. As time passes and technology develops, the trip will get cheaper, opening the floodgates to more brave souls. Other space companies (and other countries) will jump into the mix, looking to profit off the now booming industry, likely making the process even easier, and innovating in ways Musk himself hasn’t even foreseen. All things considered, Musk believes that by 2040, there will be a thriving human city (or cities) on Mars -- just 25 years from now.