ELON Musk says a colony of one million people could be living in glass domes on the surface of Mars within 40 years.
The tech billionaire’s company SpaceX is developing reusable rockets to transport 100 people at a time to start a new life on the Red Planet.
He outlined some of his plans – including how spaceships would refuel in orbit above Earth before embarking on the 80-day trip to Mars – at a conference last month.
Last night he revealed more about his vision for a network of greenhouses in an Ask Me Anything session on Reddit.
He said colonisers would live and grow plants in “geodesic domes” made from glass panes with carbon fibre frames, while robot droids would be used for mining and tunnelling.
Musk said: “With the latter, you can build out a huge amount of pressurised space for industrial operations and leave the glass domes for green living space.”
He also addressed how refuelling operations would work on Mars, with methane mined from Mars used to propel the Interplanetary Transit System back to Earth.
He suggested a scouting mission would be sent to figure out the best way to get methane from a chemical process known as the Sabatier Reaction. This involves a reaction between hydrogen and carbon dioxide to yield methane and water.
An unmanned spaceship would then be sent with equipment to build a propellant plant, followed by the first crewed mission with equipment to build a “rudimentary base” and complete the fuel plant.
Musk said that the aim would be to double the number of flights each time Earth and Mars are closest to each other in orbit, which is every 26 months, until the Red Planet city can grow itself.
At population of one million people would eventually be needed to make the colony self-sustainable – which he claimed could happen in 40 to 100 years.
Speaking to the International Astronautical Congress last month, Musk said: “I want to make Mars seem possible, something we can do in our lifetimes… and that anyone can go if they wanted to.”
SpaceX announced it has conducted its first test of the Raptor rocket engine that will propel the Mars spaceships as well as the booster that puts it into orbit.
Combined, the booster and spaceship stand at over 400ft – taller than an Apollo-era moon programme Saturn V rocket.
Future versions of the spaceship could be large enough to accommodate up to 200 passengers.
Musk, who also owns electric car firm Tesla, claims the first flight to Mars could take place as soon as 2022.
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