Every interplanetary scheme needs an elaborate design.

Elon Musk divulged his own complex plan to establish human colonies on Mars in a lengthy GQ interview and the grand stratagem behind the whole idea is called “Mars Colonial Transport Architecture.”

It’s something he and SpaceX colleagues discuss every Monday morning, and it’s just as insane as it sounds.

SpaceX makes its first launch to the International Space Station in 2012.
SpaceX makes its first launch to the International Space Station in 2012.

Any astute follower of Musk and his zealous, blue-sky ideas knows that SpaceX was actually founded on the premise of making humans a “multi-planetary species,” and that Musk’s fascination with the red planet stems from necessity: The looming threat of a global calamity will surely eviscerate human kind, so why not start planning for our survival now?

“You know, in 1912 they were proclaiming a new age of peace and prosperity, saying that it was a golden age, war was over. And then you had World War I followed by World War II followed by the Cold War. So I think we need to acknowledge that there’s certainly a possibility of a third World War, and if that does occur it could be far worse than anything that’s happened before.”

Musk is ultra-casual about the impending apocalypse though, likening it to routine computer maintenance.

“You back up your hard drive…. Maybe we should back up life, too?”

But the question of how this will all work is the pressing demand he’s been laboring to meet.

As per what’s discussed in GQ, the process of Mars Colonial Transport Architecture combines business strategy with the development of seamless reusable rocket tech, all meant to create a sustainable multi-billion dollar business model.

Shuttling people and equipment back and forth from Mars isn’t the only hurdle for SpaceX to create a self-sustaining martian colony: The planet’s environment might need to be manipulated too, and Musk says that terraforming Mars, or gradually warming it through the use of nuclear energy, is a feasible option to make it habitable.

Musk noted that he’ll publicly reveal Mars Colonial Transport Architecture early next year, so stay tuned.

In the meantime, SpaceX has already announced plans for its first manned mission, sending astronauts to the International Space Station by 2017.

Photos via Getty

Sam Blum is a writer and journalist based in Brooklyn, NY. His work has appeared in The Guardian, Salon, Village Voice and Vice.