Elon Musk Reveals How He Plans to Build a Colony on Mars

By Christopher Tkaczyk |

© Jorge Guerrero / Stringer

This piece originally appeared on Travel + Leisure.

Sci-fi fans are totally geeking out at the idea of becoming a spacefaring civilization.

On Sunday, Tesla and SpaceX founder Elon Musk answered questions from Reddit users in an Ask Me Anything (AMA) titled “I am Elon Musk, ask me anything about becoming a spacefaring civ!,” further revealing his vision for how humans will live on Mars.

Musk predicts that the first city on Mars will be built with glass panes that have carbon fiber frames, in a village of geodesic domes on the planet’s surface. He also proposed the idea of an underground city, built with “a lot of miner/tunneling droids” to create “huge amounts of pressurized space for industrial operations” and leave the glass buildings for green living space.”

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The AMA was a dense exchange of jargon and tech-speak, in which Musk and commenters used no less than 57 acronyms, including LOX (liquid oxygen), RP-1 (Rocket Propellant 1), and TWR (Thrust-to-Weight Ratio). More than 5,000 users submitted questions, and Musk answered 15 of them.

The Reddit Q&A comes one month after Musk’s presentation at the International Astronautical Congress in Guadalajara in September, when he first revealed SpaceX’s plans to travel to Mars and develop an Interplanetary Transport System to shuttle passengers between Earth and the red planet. He also revealed the company’s intention to build a propellant plant on Mars to create fuel for the system. Musk predicted that he hopes to send up to 1 million people to live on Mars within the next 40 to 100 years.

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After the Dragon scouting missions are completed, the Heart of Gold spaceship will take only equipment to begin building the fuel plant. The second mission will be SpaceX’s first crewed mission and will have roughly 12 people, who will work to build an inhabitable base camp and complete the construction of the energy facility.

Musk said that the next voyages will bring more cargo and workers, who will begin constructing a city. SpaceX will then “try to double the number of flights with each Earth-Mars orbital rendezvous, which is every 26 months, until the city can grow by itself,” Musk said.

To see all of Musk’s 15 answers, check out this recap of the AMA or see the slides below.

Elon Musk AMA

Christopher Tkaczyk is the Senior News Editor at Travel + Leisure. Follow him on Twitter and Instagram at @ctkaczyk.

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