Elon Musk’s New SpaceX Timeline Is Absurd
Elon Musk, the man behind Tesla Motors Inc (NASDAQ:TSLA), a creator of electric sports and luxury cars, is also the founder of SpaceX, a commercial space rocket service. Perhaps to distract the Tesla fanboys—the most hardwired and fundamentalist of fans—away from the delays with the “Model X” and some self-driving incidents, Musk has started effusing about Mars again. The megalomaniac entrepreneur says that the first humans will land on Mars in 2025.
Some industry experts don’t quite agree. They estimate a much longer period before this can actually occur. NASA, the company that’s actually been in the space business since the 1950s, does not see a manned mission to Mars happening until 2030 at the earliest. (Source: “Why Elon Musk’s Colony on Mars in 2020s is Unfeasible – What Could We Do – Really?,” Science 2.0, April 21, 2016.)
Overall, the Mars landing will likely be a much more complex affair, requiring the engagement of many organizations and countries. It is not the kind of mission that a single entity like SpaceX can muster all on its own. (Source: “NASA and the author of ‘The Martian’ tell us exactly how we’ll get to Mars,” The Washington Post, May 18, 2016.)
In the meantime, the tycoon’s SpaceX has already begun to study and plan the means, the ways, and the manners in which it will achieve Musk’s dream of humans walking on the red planet.
Of course, Musk has a tendency to set timelines that don’t always work out. In 2011, Musk promised that the SpaceX “Falcon Heavy” rocket would fly by 2012. It still hasn’t flown yet; there hasn’t even been a media presentation on it. Yet, somehow, it is supposed to fly later this year. (Source: “Elon Musk’s SpaceX wants to send humans to Mars by 2024, but it has yet to send any into space,” Mashable, June 3, 2016.)
No, you don’t need to shop for a stronger pair of reading glasses; you read that right. Elon Musk wants the world to believe that the Martian conquest is approaching. If all goes as planned, humans—people very much like you and me—will be walking around on Mars. (Source: “SpaceX chief Elon Musk plans to put people on Mars by 2025,” Hindustan Times, June 3, 2016.)
Musk has already set out a neat timeline. SpaceX will start sending the equipment needed for an extended Mars visit using unmanned freighters in 2018. That way, when the first humans are booked to land in 2025, they won’t miss home too much. Elon Musk has planned this to the last detail. There’s no word on whether the first Mars visitors will have access to Game of Thrones episodes, but, by God, they will have democracy—direct democracy that is.
Indeed, like so many cliché “progressive” billionaires who have the luxury of dreaming up these nightmares thanks to their companies (that don’t actually make money and are running off average workers’ taxes; see “Elon Musk’s growing empire is fueled by $4.9 billion in government subsidies,” LA Times, May 30, 2015), Musk doesn’t think democracy on Earth is living its finest hour. So, by golly, he will make his own version, dubbed “direct democracy,” on Mars. (Source: “Elon Musk thinks the best government for Mars is a direct democracy,” The Verge, June 2, 2016.)
One would imagine the sole task of planning the technical—and psychological—aspects of a mission to Mars would need thousands of hours of planning. Yet Mr. Musk is already envisioning himself as a 21st-century incarnation of Flash Gordon’s “Prince Vultan.” Lord Elon Muskvader doesn’t sound half bad, either.
And while the man has not yet managed to deliver his electric cars on time, he apparently has the time to create a theory—that he seriously thinks is possible—that human life is just a simulation game designed by a superior civilization. (Source: “Elon Musk believes we are probably characters in some advanced civilization’s video game,” Vox, June 2, 2016.)
So, we will be taking the SpaceX 2025 Mars landing with a grain of salt. Make that an espresso with one sugar.