Royal Astronomer Calls Elon Musk’s Mars Plan A ‘Dangerous Illusion’

Royal Astronomer Calls Elon Musk’s Mars Plan A ‘Dangerous Illusion’

Space X CEO and certified brain genius Elon Musk has claimed in the past that he aims to load a million people into space ships and launch them at Mars before 2050. The space company run by the second-richest man in the world says that colonizing Mars is “necessary for the long-term survival of the human species.” Musk claimed that a crewed mission to Mars will happen in just five years time. Considering that Earth and Mars are only aligned for thirty days every 26 months, all of this is pure pipe dream, and it detracts from solvable problems right here on the planet where we already live.

In a recent episode of Lord Speaker’s Corner, a podcast by the British House of Lords, Lord Rees of Ludlow had a lot to say about Musk’s plan.

“I think there might be a few crazy pioneers living on Mars, just like there are people living at the South Pole, although it’s far less hospitable than the South Pole,” he said. “But the idea of mass migration to avoid the Earth’s problems, which he and a few other space enthusiasts adopt, that, I think, is a dangerous illusion.”


The Astronomer Royal, Lord Rees of Ludlow: Lord Speaker’s Corner | House of Lords | Episode 16

There are many reasons to avoid sending humans to Mars in the short term, chief among them is the cost. Rees points out that human space exploration should be privately funded, with public funding going toward far less dangerous robotic exploration methods. “Only people who really have a high appetite for risk should be going into space, and they should be privately funded, not by the rest of us,” he says.

Mars, as you likely know, does not have a breathable atmosphere or protective magnetosphere. Human bodies are poorly equipped to deal with the low gravity, cosmic radiation, and lengthy space travel required to colonize Mars. Current generation space ships are poorly equipped to haul the heavy building equipment and resources necessary to keep a million humans alive on the surface of the red planet.

If you think it would be easier to transport a million people to another planet and somehow terraform the planet than it would be to simply emit fewer oxides of carbon into the atmosphere here on Earth, then Elon Musk definitely has something to sell you. And really, that’s the point.

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