Three of the world’s billionaires are in a space race – but it appears one of them doesn’t have plans to go to space – at least, not yet. While billionaires Richard Branson and Jeff Bezos were on their first flight carrying civilians in their respective space companies, Elon Musk, who is the CEO of SpaceX, wasn’t on its first all-civilian flight – and has recently revealed he doesn’t have plans of going to space anytime soon, either. In an interview with Kara Swisher at the Code Conference 2021 Elon Musk described his space plans, which included “a self-sustaining city on Mars, and a base on the Moon for those who want to go there.”
Kara Swisher then asks a follow-up question whether Starship is so Musk can go to Mars, or so there can be a civilization on Mars, to which Musk responds, with the later. She also asks what’s first – Moon base or Mars, and Musk replies, ‘well, the Moon is close.’ Elon Musk has mentioned his plans of taking humans to Mars for a while – and he announced a timeline for it back in February this year. “Five and a half years,” Musk had said in an interview. While that’s not a hard deadline. Musk listed a number of caveats — there’s a raft of technological advances that must be made in the intervening years. “The important thing is that we establish Mars as a self-sustaining civilization,” he said.
The strange thing is the deadline may be a little ambitious, as even USA’s leading space agency, NASA, had a much more different date, one which is seven years after Musk’s time. The first humans aren’t due to arrive on Mars on a NASA funded rocket until at least 2033.
That will be part of the Artemis – to the Moon and Mars – mission that will first see a sustainable presence established on the lunar surface. Musk had also answered other questions about Mars. ‘Over time you can make Mars Earth-like by terraforming the planet by warming it up,’ said Musk. When asked if he would allow his children to go to Mars on a future rocket trip he said ‘if we’re talking about the third or fourth set of landings on Mars I’d be ok with that,’ adding that ‘so far none of them are jumping to go to Mars’.
While Musk, doesn’t have immediate plans, and at the interview mentioned, “My goal is not to send myself up. My goal is to open up space to humanity … and become a multiplanet species,” he did add, that “I’ll go up at some point.”
For Musk, his trip to space may not be with his own company, SpaceX. In July, bought his own ticket — with Richard Branson‘s Virgin Galactic. British billionaire Richard Branson strapped in and set off in the same month on his boldest adventure yet — a bid to reach space aboard his own winged rocket ship. A spokesman for Virgin Galactic confirmed to Wall Street Journal that Musk had bought a ticket for his own space ride. It is unclear how far up the waiting list Musk is for a seat. Virgin Galactic has reported that its tickets have sold for $250,000 each, and the company has collected $80 million in sales and deposits.
As Branson jetted off to space, he was bestowed good wishes on his flight by none other than Elon Musk, owner of Tesla and SpaceX. Musk had a day before congratulated Branson on his feat on Twitter and had implied that he would be at the launch site in New Mexico to watch the Virgin Galactic flight jet out to outer space. “Will see you there to wish you the best,” Musk had tweeted out his support for Branson. On Sunday, Musk, true to his word appeared standing alongside Branson in the former’s house. Branson tweeted, “Big day ahead. Great to start the morning with a friend. Feeling good, feeling excited, feeling ready.”
What does Musk’s self-sustaining civilization Mars look like? A November 2020 report found that SpaceX will not be recognising any international law on Mars and will instead follow a set of “self-governing principles” that will be laid down during the Martian settlement.
Elon Musk appears to have very subtly slipped in a clause into the terms of agreement of Starlink satellite broadband services that SpaceX will make its own set of rules on Mars.
The Starlink terms of the agreement read: “For services provided on Mars, or in transit to Mars via Starship, or other colonisation spacecraft, the parties recognise Mars as a free planet and that no Earth-based government has authority or sovereignty over Martian activities. Accordingly, disputes will be settled through self-governing principles, established in good faith, at the time of Martian settlement.”