Elon Musk on Colonizing Mars and the Galaxy

Elon Musk spoke with Joe Rogan about getting Mars colonization to the point where it would be self-sustaining without additional supplies or support from Earth.

The entire point for Elon is to sustain the species indefinitely.

Joe Rogan also asked Elon about aliens. Elon answered that there either many aliens or no aliens.

Nextbigfuture believes species sustainability should be achieved by 2100.

There will be conversion to all new cars and trucks being electric by 2030-2040. Almost all cars and trucks will be replaced with electric vehicles by about 2050. The miles driven will mostly be using electric vehicles by 2035. These will be electric robo-taxis.

The energy system will be mostly solar, wind, batteries and nuclear by 2060-2080.

Advanced modular nuclear fission and useful for propulsion nuclear fusion should be here by 2040.

I think a breakthrough with molecular nanotechnology is still likely within 20 years.

Multi-gigawatt laser arrays to propel spacecraft in the solar at high speeds will be implemented by 2050.

Once SpaceX has mass-produced rapidly reusable rockets, this will transform air cargo delivery on Earth and then human long-range air transport. This will also rapidly allow colonization and tourism of the Earth-cislunar area by 2035.

Having large factories in orbit and on the moon means that nuclear propulsion can be built on the moon or in orbit. This and beamed laser propulsion will allow speeds to increase in the solar up to 1% of light speed. We could build the nuclear pulse propulsion orion and get to 10% fo the speed of light with large manned vehicles.

Regular unmanned travel at fifty times our current speeds means we can put millions of telescopes at the gravitational lens points (20 times further than Pluto but 500 times closer than the nearest star.) This would let us use the Suns gravity to have a million times better observation of other solar systems. We would be able to look at large islands on exoplants. We could have megapixel resolution of planets and moons in other solar systems. This high-resolution direct observation of stars and planets within 1000 light-years or even within most of the entire galaxy if we had molecular nanotechnology. This would provide far more data and better answers to if there are aliens or what is happening in the galaxy.

Molecular nanotechnology and nuclear fusion or advanced molten salt nuclear and spoce industrialization would be the basis for easily making many fully sustainable human colonies.

If we did not have molecular nanotechnology we could get by with really good additive manufacturing and factories and robotics hundreds of times better than today.

SOURCES-Joe Rogan, Elon Musk, and some analysis from Brian Wang
Written By Brian Wang, Nextbigfuture.com

57 thoughts on “Elon Musk on Colonizing Mars and the Galaxy”

  1. That's micro-gravity. We really don't know if the moon will be enough or Mars will be enough, or if not enough, by how much? Will it increase bone loss but decrease the damage of falling in 1/3g to the point where decreased bone loss results in less breaks than on earth? We just don't know.

  2. That is what I meant.
    Test this stuff on earth. Open it up when things go wrong. When you have the systems running reliably for many years without opening it up on earth, *then* you duplicate it in space.

  3. The answer is opportunity. Individuals aren’t going to send a robot to prospect. It’s like saying “let the corporations get all the gold”
    Analogy intended

  4. Pretty impressive that they managed to stabilise Mar's atmosphere in the time between Arnie turning purple from asphyxia, and him popping his clogs. Hollywood shows us what can be done, yet again !

  5. Well and good, except that people are supposed to be living in them. Fixing a leaky house, or repiling it, is a bit different from an orbital having persistent air leaks, stress cracks in the structure, or temperature excursions. I suppose if you have, say, potato blight, or a mouse plague, you can vent it and start again – as long as the alternative quarters don't have the same generic problem.

  6. The operative words in your post are "my guess is". You don't know whether Mars gravity is or is not enough to prevent physiological problems. The most direct way to find out is have people go there, live there, and find out. It might go badly for them, but they'll be volunteering and presumably are willing to risk it.

  7. You'd be looking for larger bodies that actually did have that sort of convection for a while, and were later busted apart by a collision.

    Ceres is plenty big enough to have such ore bodies, and there probably were other largish asteroids that just didn't survive intact. Psyche, for instance, appears to be the metallic core of a larger asteroid which had been big enough to create ore bodies.

    Finding them will be fun, mind you. Ore body fragments won't be a large fraction of the belt.

  8. This is utterly ridiculous; Arnold Schwarzenegger showed in Total Recall that you could not only colonize Mars, and save Mars, but by activating the atomic reactor at the center of the planet you could create a total terraform to Mars such that all the water ice would be melted in give you a brand-new water covered earth like atmosphere! I would think somebody as smart as (and as rich as) Elon musk would have already figured that out!

  9. Yes, I've asked a few times if anyone can point to an actual, real life, astronomical observation of one of these platinum asteroids.

  10. We'll have genetically engineered rats on board that have vastly improved musculature and are optimised to live in space.

    In that context, "What could go wrong?" sounds like the setup for the rest of the horror movie.

  11. The Pilgrims actually came to America to set up their own god-bothering autocracy, and had a good old time burning witches and excommunicating each other. Europe's eastern frontier also spun out religious malcontents, with the Old Believers settling in Siberia when the Tsar wouldn't let them cross themselves with three fingers. None of them were deluded enough to try to make a home above the Arctic circle, though – it took Stalin's thugs to get people up there. Mars, the Moon, and orbit are all much more hostile places for Hom Sap than anywhere on Earth.
    Not sure about this 'literal gold mine' in the asteroids, either. Earth has had four billion years of tectonic convection stirring the pot, and liquid water sorting the results, to make the rich seams of rare metals. Asteroids will have plenty of nickel-iron, with trace siderophiles, but are unlikely to have handy concentrations of rare earths, fertile and fissile heavy metals, or platinoids.

  12. NEO/TCOs are good for starters, far easier than belt, and they are dangerous. The same tech to deflect a large dangerous roid can be used to capture a small one, to eat.

  13. Mars is almost diabolically unfit to make any actual economic case. You are again stuck on a gravity prison. Space is the place to make $$$, start with space solar if you also want to solve global heating, which seems to be some sort of problem?

  14. You have hit upon an important point, that people are not the workers, robots are. The work is things like Space Solar and mfg that can be better done in Space, a lot of stuff. ISS is showing the experimental possibilities already. Tourists are an exception to everything, but seem to spend, not make, $$$. The new DARPA effort is to look at robots in Space mfg, so things are looking up. Eventually, just buying a place in Space to live will be common, but workers supporting robots will be the first. Huge project just Criswell LSP would make everything else pop.

    Also, Zubrin had an indirect hand in B2, so it was modeling the wrong problem, Mars, rather than the future, Space. O is a waste product in Space, sunlight is abundant, on and on. Then, they put rich dirt in there that decomposed to CO2, oops!

  15. Agree. That said, I do foresee a reason of why people could choose to leave earth. That being for same reason the Pilgrims and the Puritans came to America – to escape oppression.

  16. But exactly how does one get rich living on Mars? How does one generate that level of income? My guess would be that colonists of Mars would make little, if any money at all. They would spend most of their time simply trying to survive, i.e. growing food, building living space, making air and water, doing maintenance on all the various machines that will keep them alive. None of that work is going to generate lots of cash. And after the initial public sensation wears off, any fame they have generated will fade away. I think it's likely that the lives of the first Mars settlers will be very similar to those of Pilgrims – lots of hard work in a very hostile environment with the return on investment being similar to those of a small country farm.

  17. If Mars' low g turns out to be fatal for anyone who attempts to live there permanently, then we might see O'Neill cylinders or ringworlds. Of course, they have to be economically viable, which is a whole other challenge.

  18. That's the million dollar question – how do you overcome it? NASA has its astronauts on the space station exercise to counter the zero grav effects, but that only delays the physiological damage. It doesn't prevent it. Lots of folks talk about generating artificial gravity. You can do that on a rotating space ship and or space station, but you can't do that on the surface of Mars. Thus right now no one knows how to generate 1g on .38g surface.

    My guess is that the first permanent colonists on Mars will suffer from serious health problems after a few years. Not from radiation exposure, but from the long term effects of low grav. This very well may halt any hopes of permanent colonization until we can find a solution, mainly by using genetic engineering to adapt the human body to survive in low g. I would guess that could be centuries from now.


  19. SpaceX is >50% owned by Elon Musk so if he really wants to go to Mars and the've got the money, they're going.

  20. Re: Biosphere 2
    I think their mistake was trying to get it right in one go, rather that shutting it, finding it going wrong, fixing that one thing shutting it again, running a bit longer before things go wrong. Rinse & repeat until the thing is going well for decades as a closed ecology.

  21. I think we need to worry more about those who fall math racist than conservatives who hold no institutional power.

  22. …There is no "muh taxes" nor "muh fix Earth first" protest stopping a private company with rockets paid and made by themselves…

    Pull yourself up by your bootstrap revisionism?

    "NASA paid for roughly half the cost to develop SpaceX’s workhorse Falcon 9 rocket"

    That first crew dragon launch didn't cost tax payers $60M, it cost over $3B.
    Without tax dollars before and throughout, your imaginary boat dont float.

  23. SpaceX is a commercial launch provider, his aspirational goals are within that context. Until it's demonstrated otherwise, SpaceX will not be doing any such beyond leo work without a paying customer(mostly NASA). I have yet to see a viable business model that could kick this goal off in the near term for non-governmental entities.

    The low hanging fruit concept(solar, mining) wise for beyond leo industrialization could arguable be done without without large numbers or any human presence.


  24. Um, we have a general idea based on years of low grav experience… and it will be a problem we'll need to overcome.

  25. Project Orion or really nuclear driven space craft I think will always be a non-starter for atmospheric launch/landing BUT when star ship drops the launch cost space will start to develop. When that happens nuclear propulsion for inter-stellar travel will become much desired. Just like carriers here on the seas the idea of range extension by fuel savings and multiples of speed increase will be huge selling points. Exploration/Exploitation of points past Mars will require both.

    Their is allot out there the asteroid belt is literally the gold mine that can feed the raw material needs of the space structures from solar arrays to massive rotating stations. Flying millions of tons into orbit to build a single station or array off earth is cost prohibitive compared to flying hundreds of thousands of tons to build a orbital factory and few nuclear powered tugs to bring in the resource rich material from the asteroid belt for processing/use. Hell if you mined a asteroid with the proper makeup from the inside out hollowing it when you were done you could spray sealant to the interior walls to get huge ready made space installations once setup to spin.

    It will also replace the people/supply movement between everything but the near earth points because speed equals less radiation time. For supply time is not that important but the fuel savings will be.

    Bottom line is nuclear is very viable just not for atmospheric so need step 1 before step 2 is needed.

  26. Maybe Starship will 'revolutionize' cargo transport, cutting end-to-end deliveries to the other side of the globe from about 2 days to a day or less. But it won't be with Starships landing near the hundreds of destinations needed to make the final delivery leg acceptably quick.

    Starships will fly around the world and land at one of a small handful of destination 'oil rigs' – or just back at its origin. Along its orbital path, it will deploy a number of robotic lifting body pods that can scatter widely from it's flight path to land at conventional airports.

    Their mass will cut into Starship's payload – so it won't be as cheap as carrying 100T of cargo – but can Starship really land on Earth with 100T of cargo anyhow?

  27. The weights don't hold the inside organs down and don't keep cells in their proper form so the cell walls will separate from the cytoskeletons. Numerous other problems are likely to occur that are to much to list.

  28. In the next few decades I think the business case for people living on distant outposts on Mars or the asteroids isn’t about tourists or masses of people, it’s unlike anything that existed historically but the elements of how and why it might work are already in place.

    First keep in mind that most SciFi depictions happened before Global internet and Social media. Before celebrity influencers. Before Reality TV.

    The reality of people settling on Mars will be that life is very hard and dangerous – but, they will all be rich and famous. Every person living on Mars even when there are hundreds of them, will be at the center of their own media ecology. They will post regularly on Facebook, YouTube, Twitter, Instagram. They will as regularly text with friends and family on earth as if they lived in the same town. They’ll send pics and videos freely back and forth. Only simultaneous conversations will be missing.

    The cost of living will be ridiculous but so will salaries and incomes. The net result will be that anyone on Mars will easily be able to remit home significant amounts of money by their family and friends standards. People on Mars will have the same credit cards, brokerages, investments as people on earth.

    Right now hundreds of people risk their lives and spend tens of thousands of dollars to climb Everest even though it’s objectively pointless as well as dangerous and difficult. How much motive to do dangerous work in Space if it makes you rich and famous?

  29. Haven't seen anything you can do in space yet that wouldn't be far cheaper and easier with robots, designed for the environment, than with humans, evolved for earth.
    Also, haven't seen any proposed space habitat, notwithstanding Dan Lantz's nice picures, that would have a fraction the appeal of Earth, as a place to live. (Tourism ? '..Everybody hates a tourist '.) The main attraction in space would be looking back at Earth. The kind of landscapes people like are the kind they evolved to like, especially with flowing and standing water, trees, animals, blue skies and clouds, changing weather… Making a simulacrum of that might be possible in virtual reality, but as real worlds, with correct gravity, radiation levels, smells, sounds, days and seasons, would be an immense task. Doing it for millions of people is strictly science fiction. Biosphere 2, which had most of the background requirements already, couldn't even feed its (severely overworked) inhabitants properly, keep healthy gas ratios, or smell right.

  30. You can replicate the "weight" this way, but you introduce new problems. In particular you have the problem of increasing inertia, where lateral motion would be significantly different than it would be unweighted in 1G. Each move of the legs or arms if they were weighted would probably be damaging to the joints. Also, you would probably still have problems with organs like the eyes which have evolved in 1g.

    I am certain that we can come up with fixes over time, but it is hardly as simple as implied here.

  31. we may have some solutions, we have a DNA splice that can fix the muscle loss, (they edited a rat on the ISS) the issue is, what else could go wrong.

  32. So.
    I don't want to be that guy, but:
    As much as I would like to vacation, take a sabbatical, retire, do a work/ teach tour of duty at or beyond LEO, especially near or on the moon, conceivably on Mars if I could be there and back in 10 years: I think it is very reasonable to believe that most people don't -even rich G7 world citizens-, even if it was well within their 'extended' financial means (and fitness level) – say (super-cheaply – like Tesla/SpaceX GroupOn), $15k for 10 quick LEO orbits, less than $50k for a weekend at the Moon, and $450k for a 5 – 7 years expedition to Mars — all Economy Class – likely helping out/ working. And is that not the underlying means of success for all things: general acceptance and integration into people's lives (i.e. that there is enough paying demand, beyond early adopters, special employees, government, etc)?
    Have people even crunched the numbers? or do they need to? Can we get a significant series of bases, gateways, outposts, and stations that are only research, security/ defence, academic, etc., all the way to mars and asteroids and maintain that network with barely any billionaires (unrelated to space business), millionaire tourists, massive alumni research programs, groups who wish to explore/ colonize (yes, i'm using THAT term)/ tour/ search beyond/ (possibly conquer)/ populate/ exploit… etc, etc. I can see 100,000s of people interested in full day LEO orbits, 1,000s into lunar weekends… within a year, but the business case?

  33. "Having large factories in orbit" can build all sorts of things, Space Solar, rotating habs, better bigger and more stuff than on Mars! $$$$ too.

  34. I have much personal experience freaking people out who are "small world". Their whole power trip relies on the limits of the Earth, so we must all obey their wisdom. The World is bigger than they imagine, and presented with O'Neill, they flee in terror. One in particular was quite content to control Mars/moons too, but O'Neill was too much.

  35. Where we will be living, Space, you can have any g you want. I suggest playgrounds be at 1.2 g for extra exercise of young bones, but we'll see. Planets are so tiny, just ignore them.

  36. I am rooting for Elon and hope he achieves every goal he is attempting. His goals seem to also be my goals. I will also do what I can to help him achieve them, by buying Tesla's and signing up for Starlink.
    As for the Orion style pulse drive propulsion, I am in flux at the moment. I am a proponent, and would love to see some truly massive and powerful ones built all the way to antimatter driven if we could. The only thing that has me (re)thinking them is Zubrin's salt water nuclear rocket. Same energies, continuous thrust instead of pulsed, no insurmountable new technologies, and also up to 3-10% light speed using weapons grade fission materials.
    I am truly hoping that the new aging technologies work and come into wide usage. Not because I am greedy and want to live forever, but just so I can see what comes next. Exciting times, for sure.

  37. I was never under the impression that groups such as these have been the limiting factor in our space efforts. Political lobbying and political interference alone have been far more damaging.

  38. "Nextbigfuture believes species sustainability should be achieved by 2100."

    No one has ever lived on a .38g world (Mars) before. We don't know what that will do to human physiology. We won't know until someone attempts to live their or the moon for an extended period of time, i.e. 5-10 years. Before we make estimates on when when "sustainability" will be achieved we first need to determine whether we can survive long term on a low g world.

  39. So many wonders that could be in the far future. But all depends on the small little things we do now.

    Now that space seems as becoming reachable for humanity again, there are some new wills of the actual conservatives (those who loathe change, NIMBYS and de-growthers) working against it, even (or specially) before it becomes a thing.

    And they' re angrier than before , because they now know they can't control and kill the new space economy by removing public spending as they did other times. There is no "muh taxes" nor "muh fix Earth first" protest stopping a private company with rockets paid and made by themselves. Only laws can, and they are working at it.

    For my part, I'd be quite content if I manage to see Lunar and Mars cities in my life, with space access becoming cheaper and easier, and the Solar System another vector of human growth. But it all depends on people remaining vigilant and wary of these misanthropic forces.

    And no, these self-destructive groups in America won't stop other nations from eventually dominating space either.

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