Elon Musk's latest comments about his plan to colonize Mars may put people off the idea out of fear for their lives. In a new interview with Peter Diamandis for The XPrize Foundation, Musk admitted that "a bunch of people probably will die" in the pursuit of multi-planetary life. This blunt take drew fresh criticism for Musk and his fixation on the project.
"Honestly, a bunch of people probably will die in the beginning," Musk said with a chuckle as he spoke with Diamandis this week. "It's tough sledding over there, you know? We're not going to make anyone go! It's volunteers only." Musk later added that the Mars colonization will be "a glorious adventure, and it will be an amazing experience." He also balked at the accusations that the whole plan is just "some escape hatch for rich people."
"You might die, it's going to be uncomfortable and probably won't have good food," he conceded. Musk has been dead-set on seeding life on Mars for years — arguably since he read Isaac Asimov's Foundation novels as a child. He founded a private rocketry company called SpaceX for that purpose, which has now launched over 100 rockets in the last decade. However, a number of unmanned prototypes by the company ahve gone up in fiery explosions.
That has never seemed to dampen Musk's enthusiasm. He predicts that SpaceX will put human beings on the surface of Mars by the year 2026. It's worth noting that with current technology, the trip itself would most likely take at least 7 months.
Musk has discussed his passion for the Mars colonization project at length over the last few years, including a paper he wrote and published in June of 2017. He notes that does not want humanity's journey to end at Mars, but for the species to become "multi-planetary." He hopes to see Mars support a population of about 1 million people, all in a large city built to protect against the planet's harsh environment.
Against these lofty goals, Musk's critics complain of his impractical approach to the real-life problems humanity faces right now, here on Earth. They argue that he contributes to the problems by hoarding wealth as a billionaire and manipulating economic forces with his social media celebrity. Musk has also faced many accusations of mistreating his workers over the years.
All of this controversy is likely to come to a head in two weeks, when Musk makes his debut appearance on Saturday Night Live. He will serve as the show's celebrity host on May 8 at 11:30 p.m. ET on NBC.