There Could Be Life on Mars! (And it's probably Elon Musk)
Updated: Feb 25
50 years ago Neil Armstrong became the first human to ever set foot on the moon in a move that ended the space race and inspired generations to come. Now humanities gearing up for a new space race, this time to Mars. With more competitors, new technology and higher stakes the next few decades of space travel are going to be very interesting to say the least.
Leading the race to colonise mars is Elon Musk’s latest fixation SpaceX. Since 2002 Musk has been trying to develop the technology to land and create a permanent base on Mars and in 2017 he announced his plans to send the first manned mission to mars in 2024 with a cargo mission full of resources setting off two years prior. As well as this self-proclaimed “aspirational” plan SpaceX has its sights set on a variety of new ventures such as a Lunar base, new satellites and utilizing their latest technological marvel the BFR - short for Big Freaking Rocket (not really) - for both interplanetary and earthbound travel. This highlights the problem in selling history to private sector companies, when something new, shiny and more profitable comes along their attention is diverted and record-breaking plans are shelved. Not to mention the glaringly obvious fact that in letting this plan happen we’re allowing ELON MUSK control over letting people land on Mars for the first time. All due respect to Elon however this is a man balancing several companies, five children and a relationship with a Canadian R&B rapper. I don’t think anyone can accurately predict what may or may not occur but when it comes to SpaceX I’m certainly anxious to see what’s in their future.
NASA’s approach to the Mars race is definitely more reserved. To start with during the Earth/Mars alignment in 2020 NASA is sending a brand-new rover with four mission goals: to identify if there has ever been life on mars, to characterise the geology of mars, to characterise the climate of mars, and to set up for human exploration. As of 2019 NASA has a proposed date for human mission to Mars of the 2030’s, while most of their attention is on the 2024 missions to the moon that will see a woman set foot on it for the first time. In order to eventually get to Mars NASA plans to set up a permanent docking station in orbit of the moon to act as a starting point to interplanetary transport but as much of the technology is still in development it’ll be a while before someone sets foot on Mars on behalf of the American Government.
Elon Musk isn't the only billionaire throwing their hat into the space exploration ring. Richard Branson has expressed interest in expanding Virgin Galactic to service Mars in the future. Jeff Bezos’s company Blue Origin has stated it may attempt transit to Mars with its new rockets creating a rivalry with SpaceX and I for one am fundamentally disturbed at this development. Space travel is an incredibly dangerous and unpredictable venture and has already claimed the lives of 18 astronauts and trusting a billionaire to make life or death decisions is terrifying as a billionaire is an inherently unethical person. Having enough money to save hundreds of millions from extreme poverty, famine or dehydration but choosing not to and instead hoarding your money like a dragon is not something any good person would do, so why are we selling our history to them? Letting huge companies, with profit as a major goal, run our future exploring the solar system just means we can never truly be free of capitalism even as we leave our home planet. Will there be an end to this never ending cycle of exploitative labour for the sake of advancement or can we break this cycle?
One thing we can predict with some degree of accuracy is that Space travel is set to become a more attainable goal for the average person during the remainder of the 21st Century. However, i'll let you decide whether or not you believe it to a worthwhile endeavour or a complete and utter waste of time.