What are you willing to risk for a trip to Mars? According to Elon Musk, you better be prepared to risk it all. The SpaceX founder has long been a champion of space exploration and the eventual settlement of Mars, but he says it won't be easy. In fact, in one recent interview, the entrepreneur made the suggestion a "bunch of people" will likely lose their lives in the earliest missions to the Red Planet.
"[Going to Mars] is dangerous and uncomfortable. It's a long journey and you might not come back alive, but it's a glorious adventure and it will be an amazing experience," Musk told XPRIZE executive Peter Diamandis during a live stream on Thursday.
An amazing experience, eh? Musk quickly added that when SpaceX finally gets ready to go to Mars, the company will strictly use volunteers or people that hope to see their legacy live on in the history books.
"If an arduous and dangerous journey where you may not come back alive — but is a glorious adventure and sounds appealing — Mars is the place," he added. "Honestly, a bunch of people will probably die in the beginning. It's tough sledding over there. We don't want to make anyone go, it's volunteers only."
Musk's SpaceX just launched its third manned flight to the International Space Station this week and is still time from sending people on their seven-month journey to Mars. If he gets his way, Musk has said he'd like to see humans on Mars by 2026.
"For the first time in the four and a half billion year history of Earth it has been possible to extend life beyond Earth and make life multi-planetary," he said on Clubhouse earlier this year.
"Humanity is the agent of life and we have an obligation to ensure the creatures of Earth continue even if there is a calamity on Earth, whether it is man-made or a natural calamity - if you look at the fossil record there are many mass extinctions."
NASA is much more cautious with its goals, hoping that humans may land on the Red Planet at some point in the 2030s or shortly thereafter. The government agency currently has a major mission in progress as it uses the Perseverance rover and Ingenuity helicopter to help provide data that could lay the groundwork for a human mission to Mars at some point in the future.
Cover photo by PETER PARKS/AFP via Getty Images