Elon Musk on Colonizing Mars: First Landing Will Be in 5 Years


As awful as it was in many respects, 2021 was a milestone for space exploration, with several private companies achieving record-breaking launches on privately-funded and built rockets. The media called it the billionaire space race, and Elon Musk and his SpaceX were often thrown into it, along with Jeff Bezos’ Blue Origin and Richard Branson’s Virgin Galactic. But what sets the three billionaires apart is that Musk is not “in” on the race. He doesn’t tackle the topic directly in his latest chat with Lex Friedman for his podcast, but it becomes clear as he explains his vision for space exploration and travel, specifically to Mars. While Bezos and Branson will talk about the vague benefits of launching paying customers into space, which range from getting a fresh perspective on our planet by seeing it from afar to perfecting unspecified technology that will eventually save it, Musk is far more practical. And definitely better organized. That Musk plans to send the Starship rocket to Mars is not a secret, as neither is a 5 to 10 years deadline for it, nor his plans to build a self-sustaining colony on the Red Planet. For anyone not up to to date with his plans, this interview is a good start, as the SpaceX CEO explains everything from the need to cut down costs for space travel to the importance of making the colony self-sustaining. For those who have been rooting for Musk all along, the only novelty in this section of the podcast is Musk’s confirmation that things are going to plan. “Best case is about five years, worst case 10 years,” he says when asked about the first landing on Mars. Musk says he’s working toward making this happen in case “Earth gets too hot for life in about 500 million years” or some calamity ends all life forms before that – like it happened to the dinosaurs. For the first time in the history of mankind, there’s a window to make interplanetary life possible, and Musk says it would be a shame if we wasted the chance. “That window of opportunity may be open for a long time, and I hope it is, but it also may be open for a short time. I think it is wise for us to act quickly while the window is open, just in case,” he says. The entire podcast is available below. Talk about colonizing Mars starts at the 27-minute mark.