Musk’s attention waned around 20 years ago while joking around NASA’s website. He observed that there was no timetable for manned missions to Mars. He later called the lack of vision “shocking”.
Musk, then a millionaire already selling a software company, ditch Silicon Valley for Los Angeles to get closer to the aerospace industry, and set his sights on the stars.
Now the future of space is largely in the hands of his and other free-spending, big-dreaming billionaires, including Amazon’s Jeff Bezos.
But what will this future look like?
Some answers can be found right now in the new book “Star Settlers: The Billionaires, Geniuses, and Crazed Visionaries Out to the Converse Conquering the Universe” (Pegasus Books) by Fred Nadis.
“Understood [guys like Musk] Almost like medieval cathedral builders, with this multi-century project that they are ready to take their time and their livelihood, ”Nadis told the Post.
That writer said, the dream of these billionaires can be huge.
Tesla founder Musk has said that all his worldly business ventures are a way to fulfill his true passion: colonizing Mars.
His company, SpaceX, plans to send humans to the Red Planet in 2024. Within a century, Musk destroyed reusable rockets every two years to re-use the rocket and destroy about 200 passengers at once, eventually setting up a million people outpost.
It is still unclear how they will survive.
At its closest, Mars is about 35 million miles from Earth, and a journey takes about nine months. Once you get there, the problem people will face is that Mars’ atmosphere is much thinner than Earth’s and that the planet does not generate any electromagnetic fields, which means that it is free of cosmic rays and The other is nourished by harmful-to-human energy.
“It’s really challenging,” Nadis says. “It’s not as easy as SpaceX, it can outrun it.”
Musk has presented a description of what the world of life can look like. Any Mars colony would have to be self-sufficient and not rely on supplies from Earth. Kasturi has suggested that food be grown either underground or in enclosed structures to protect crops from radiation, but because the Earth receives about half the sunlight from the surface of Mars, whatever plants can be grown, they might : Will be complementary. Artificial lights – and powering those lights will be no small challenge.
Musk has stated that the farms will be powered by solar panels, although he has been offered some details.
“Really very straightforward,” he told Popular Mechanics last year.
In the same interview, the billionaire suggested the inhabitants of Mars stay under a glass dome with an “outer, fun atmosphere” until the planet was terraformed – artificially making the planet more Earth-like. For change, with a lively atmosphere.
But the plan also presents a problem: According to a 2018 NASA-sponsored study, terraforming of Mars is impossible, because there is not enough carbon dioxide locked in the soil to release air.
Musk, however, is not haunted. He suggests detonating 10,000 nuclear missiles on the surface of Mars to melt the planet’s ice reserves, causing carbon dioxide to stop inside. His company has also produced “Nuke Mars” T-shirts.
Scientists are divided on whether the idea will work. For example, Penn State climate scientist Michael Mann told US News and World Report in 2015, “There are so many things that can go wrong here, it’s hard to know where to start.”
Meanwhile, Bezos and his company, Blue Origin too, are focused on moving to off-world – but space – colonies. Bezos is worried that Earth’s resources will be gone in a few hundred years, which will require him to leave.
Bezos drew much of his inspiration from the work of Gerrard O’Neill, a Princeton physicist who designed a grand design for space colonies in the 1970s.
There are many things that can go wrong here…
– Scientist Michael Mann created a plan for Mars by Elon Musk
O’Neill envisioned two huge counter-rotating cylinders – rotating to create artificial gravity – joined by a rod at each end. The massive structures can be 4 miles in diameter and at least 16-miles long.
The interior of each cylinder will offer “controlled climate and temperate weather”, with an earth-like landscape consisting of forests, artificial rivers and mountains. To protect against cosmic radiation, cylinders will be lined with the rock of the moon. Plants, pigs and chickens can be raised for food. Low gravity games can serve as entertainment.
Colonials have inhabited apartments around farmland – and “living conditions in colonies should be more pleasant than in most places on earth,” O’Neill wrote in 1974.
With some technological developments, O’Neill envisioned the shape of the cylinder, which could be able to cover about 30,000 square miles, allowing space for 700 million people.
Presumably the colony would be parked in a stationary orbit between the Earth and the Moon, first calculated in 1772 by a mathematician. O’Neill has said that there is room for “several thousand colonies”.
Bezos is a fan of O’Neill’s designs, and has said that he envisions “one trillion” living in space colonies one day, though Nadis predicts “hundreds of years”.
The Amazon founder said that it is his generation’s job to start preparing the land for the colonies so that future generations can actually build them.
“The children here, and your children and their grandchildren, you are going to build the O’Neill colonies,” Bezos said at the press conference last year in Washington, DC.
A colony on the moon may be a more realistic bet in some of our lifetimes. Making it to the moon has long been a dream for many, including Bezos and Japanese tech billionaire Yuska Mezawa earlier this year, who tweeted that he was looking for a girlfriend to do the orbiter.
Nadis said that the most likely habitats would first be simple modular units, built on Earth and then flown from rockets to the moon. But one tantalizing possibility is the moon’s lava tube – massive underground tunnels created by lava flows. Staying inside them will offer protection from surface radiation and more stable temperatures (around -4 degrees Fahrenheit).
Scientists are not yet sure how big or deep these tubes are and what they may look like inside. In his influential magazine, Moon Minors Manifesto, sci-fi fan Peter Koch once described the civilization of thousands of people living in rocky terrain, which is almost like setting up camp in an earth cave. Sunlight will be piped down through the bottom shaft or optical cable bundles. Elevators will be constructed to take residents to the surface. Finally, it may be possible to seal and pressurize a tube, such as with an airplane, to create a habitat for a habitat.
But not one of these dreamers is a big problem of human solution: it can be extremely difficult in space. Never face the challenges of having low gravity sex. Radiation in space “may render men temporarily and sterile to women permanently,” Nadis writes.
In a Russian experiment, mice were unable to produce children in space, and when those space mice returned to Earth and mated with regular mice, the offspring had “significant abnormalities”.
Other physical functions may also occur in space. Take sleep, for example. Our bodies are exposed to light and referred to 24-hour days. On the Moon, however, a “day” lasts more than 27 Earth days, severely deteriorating with the human circadian rhythm. (The day of Mars is like the Earth.)
One solution to this is to equip the houses with lights that emulate the sun. The compartments are blackened for “night”.
And what about urinating and hunting in low gravity? Early astronauts had to do their business in a bag (bits sometimes missed and floated around their space capsules). But, in the future, the waste can be recycled. A 2017 paper in the journal Life Science in Space Research detailed a compact bioreactor that can recycle numbers 1 and 2 to a food goo.
Even with many potential complications, Nadis appreciates the viewpoint of billionaire space explorers.
“What Fringe once thought – fleeing to the stars – is moving towards the center,” the author writes. “Potentially profound cultural change is taking place, as we think of ourselves as one of the (potential) spacefares as a species of Earth.”
But, he concluded, “are we qualified candidates for dispersal through the solar system or the Milky Way, or is an open question.”