This editorial appeared in The San Diego Union-Tribune on Sept. 29:
SpaceX Chief Executive Elon Musk used a speech Sept. 27 at the International Astronautical Congress in Guadalajara, Mexico, to outline how he thinks Mars can be colonized in coming decades. Instead of snickers, Musk’s vision of humans as a multi-planet species has been met more by warnings about the challenges that lie ahead and by applause for having the courage to think big.
Musk hopes to use massive reusable rockets, engine and fuel technologies that have yet to be invented, and 1,000 spaceships to send enough humans to Mars that eventually there could be a colony of 1 million. He is planning an unmanned mission to Mars in 2018 and thinks SpaceX could take humans there as soon as 2025.
The audacity of his vision is breathtaking — and welcome. “Life needs to be more than just solving problems every day. You need to wake up and be excited about the future, and be inspired, and want to live,” Musk said in his speech.
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Amen. Life in the 21st century increasingly has the promise of century-old John Carter science fiction serials. For all of our personal and planetary concerns, this is a very cool time to be alive.