Elon Musk Says There's a 70 Percent Chance He'll Go to Mars

Elon Musk reckons it’s more likely than not that he’ll go to Mars, but whether he’ll come back is another question. The 47-year-old SpaceX CEO said in an interview aired Sunday night that there’s a 70 percent chance that he will move there, but that the probability of dying in the “harsh environment” is “much higher than Earth.”

“The ad for going to Mars would be like Shackleton’s ad for going to the Antarctic,” Musk said, referring to an ad supposedly placed in 1912 by Sir Ernest Shackleton in London-based The Times that read “Men wanted for Hazardous Journey. Small wages, bitter cold, long months of complete darkness, constant danger, safe return doubtful. Honor and recognition in case of success.” The ad probably never existed, but Musk explained how the Mars mission would echo the sentiments: “There’s a good chance of death, going in a little can through deep space.”

See more: Everything We Know About SpaceX’s Starship, Elon Musk’s Massive Mars Rocket

Musk also hit back at suggestions that his plan was a means for rich people to escape Earth, explaining that once you make the treacherous journey across space, “you might land successfully,” and “once you land successfully, you’ll be working nonstop to build the base.” Musk made similar comments at the South by Southwest Festival in Austin, Texas in March this year, where he started that Mars and the moon “are often thought of as some escape hatch for rich people, but it won’t be that at all.”

SpaceX has built its plan to get to Mars around the Starship, the vessel formerly known as the BFR. The rocket, scheduled to perform hop tests of a few short kilometers next year, is designed with a liquid oxygen and methane propellant system, so visitors to Mars can create more rocket fuel to lift off and return home. Musk claimed last year that a manned mission to Mars could come as soon as 2024, with the first base on Mars sometime around 2028. From there, SpaceX engineer Paul Wooster claims the goal is to build “multiple cities on Mars.” These would support experiments into the history, geology and climate of Mars.

Astrobiologist Lewis Dartnell previously told Inverse that the first self-sustaining towns with substantial numbers of people will likely come within the next 50 to 100 years. That means, if Musk follows through on his plan, he could be among the pioneers of these settlements.

Related video: SpaceX Simulates How Its Starship Will Land

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