In a commentary published in the journal New Space, Musk outlines plans to make the months-long journey as entertaining and appealing as possible, in order to attract more people to undertake the mission to colonize Mars.
“The crew compartment or the occupant compartment is set up so that you can do zero-gravity games—you can float around,” he writes. “There will be movies, lecture halls, cabins, and a restaurant. It will be really fun to go. You are going to have a great time!”
Musk’s company SpaceX is nowhere near sending people to Mars at this point, but he hopes to reduce the cost of flying into space so much that a trip to Mars would cost the same as buying a house or less. Describing the mission to colonize the neighboring planet as creating a “backup drive” for civilization, he refers to the idea as insurance against apocalyptic events here on Earth.
“In order to make it appealing and increase that portion of the Venn diagram where people actually want to go, it has got to be really fun and exciting—it cannot feel cramped or boring,” Musk adds.
Musk also reveals why he has chosen Mars as the target planet, saying that the Moon is too small to establish an interplanetary presence, and Venus is “a high-pressure – super-high-pressure – hot acid bath … not at all like the goddess.”
“It would be quite fun to be on Mars because you would have gravity that is about 37% of that of Earth, so you would be able to lift heavy things and bound around,” he explains.
His plans to make space travel cheaper are already well underway. Reusable rockets could reduce costs dramatically, as would refueling in orbit rather than landing. But when can we expect to start blasting off to Mars? One slide in Musk’s presentation suggested flights to the red planet could begin as early as 2023. “If things go super-well, it might be in the 10-year timeframe, but I do not want to say that is when it will occur.”