Written by Nadia Drake, National Geographic’s recent cover of Space X’s mission to Mars is the clearest view of a human future beyond Earth I’ve seen yet. It’s overwhelming, and it makes you wonder what it’s like to have the possibility of life beyond Earth weigh on your mind everyday.
I don’t need to break it down further, but I’m going to because it’s that amazing. People on this Earth clock in at their actual jobs daily to figure out how other humans can settle on ANOTHER PLANET. The best part? It may be achieved while many of you reading this will still be ALIVE.
As of August 2016, Space X, Elon Musk’s space transportation company, has successfully launched six rockets into orbit and landed them safely back on Earth. The hurdle of creating reliably reusable rockets was an enormous one. There are several other major logistical factors Musk addresses in the NatGeo article before we can start seriously talking about occupying Mars:
- Landing a large spacecraft on Mars will require reliable heat resistance and propulsion. This proved to be a challenge to NASA’s Curiosity rover, which was only a fraction of the weight Musk’s spacecrafts are.
- Refueling while in transit would be necessary. For this challenge, Musk plans to be able to keep crew-carrying crafts in Earth’s orbit before departing for Mars. He also plans to equip spaceships with solar panels to rely on the Sun’s energy, saving propellant for the intense landings.
- Actually settling Mars: Matt Damon’s character impressively figured out how to farm Mars soil in The Martian, but can a group of human beings sustain themselves and thrive on Mars any time soon? We don’t know.
Life on Mars would be lit once people figured it out. Here are some things to look forward to for our kids and grandchildren:
- Mars has significantly less gravity. Athletic performances would be through the roof! People could go train on Earth, then come back and dominate on Mars. Like Goku going into that extreme gravity chamber in Dragonball Z or something.
- ‘Planet of birth/origin’ will be a new demographic. 22nd century kids going to school on Earth could be Martians that came back after birth. Also, the early years of Mars settlement could be primarily for wealthy people who could afford the interplanetary move. Maybe new slang terms will come up to describe how bougie Martian humans become.
- On the same note, if primarily wealthy people move to Mars, interplanetary segregation by class/race could be a thing. A similar version of this potential future social issue was explored in the film Elysium, which also stars Matt Damon.
Despite the uncertainty, the endeavor is well worth it. Elon Musk has been invested in the preservation of humanity for a while now. Not only did he donate $10 million toward maintaining the safety of artificial intelligence to humanity, Tesla and Space X at their core are companies figuring out ways to protect and improve human life. Whether it’s making transportation more Earth-friendly, or figuring out a way to live somewhere else in the universe if need be, Musk’s commitment to humanity is timely. Even if major threats like global warming and nuclear war don’t prompt an evacuation of Earth before the year 2100, Musk is right in saying humans need to become a space-faring civilization in order to keep evolving. It’s far out, but it’s important to invest in and keep track of.
Thanks for caring, Elon.