Will You be able to go to Mars?

On the 20th of July, 1969, the human race set foot on the Moon for the first time. This is where Neil Armstrong famously said “One small step for [a] man, one giant leap for mankind.”

Well, just over a week ago, SpaceX CEO Elon Musk laid out his company’s plans to enable mankind to make an even bigger leap as he unveiled its proposed interplanetary transport system, which would transport people to (and from) Mars, claiming that “anyone” will be able to go.

But how true is this? Will you and I be able to go? Will our families be able to go? Maybe.

For a start, you’ll need some money. Around $200,000 to give you an idea, at least that’s what Musk is aiming for. In his plans for the Mars transport system, he explained the steps they had taken to drastically reduce the cost of flying to Mars. For example, the rocket booster for the vehicle, the part that does most of the work of getting the passenger vehicle up to speed before detaching itself, will fly back down to Earth and land safely, meaning it can be reused, rather than crashing into the ocean and ending up in a museum.

The thing is, since you’re moving to Mars, you won’t really need many of your belongings anymore, including your house. So if you can get $200,000 for your house, you’re sorted, provided you won’t need that money once you’re there that is. This only applies if you actually own a house though, so if you rent your accommodation, you’d better get saving…

The next problem is surviving the flight. If you’re prone to motion sickness, this probably isn’t for you. Taking off in a rocket exerts a pretty hefty force on your body, and the harsh acceleration and turbulence during takeoff will definitely get to you if you’re someone who feels sick sitting in the back of a car (and no, you can’t sit at the front of the rocket). On top of this, landing might be even worse, with an estimated G-force of 4 to 6g during descent. This will have an even harsher effect on your body after 80 days of near zero gravity (yes, it takes 80 days to get there, which is actually pretty quick), as you’ll be used to having almost no force exerted on your body (on Earth, we experience 1g of force most of the time). Needless to say, the landing will be pretty intense, so this isn’t really suited to the frail or faint of heart. If you can survive that though, the journey sounds like a cool experience. Check out SpaceX’s simulation of the journey below if you’re interested (it’s pretty breathtaking).

A computer simulation of SpaceX’s Mars transport system

Looks amazing, right? Well at least I thought so. Anyway, back to the topic at hand.

Another limitation will be your personality. You have to be very motivated, but I assume you would be if you decided to give up your life on Earth to go to Mars, so that shouldn’t be too much of a problem. You also have to be curious, which means wanting to learn — you should be the type of person who questions everything. But again though, you’re going to Mars, so you probably have some of that already.

On top of these things, which are almost a given, you’ll need to be resourceful and adaptable. Now these are attributes that not everybody has. You’ll have to come up with plans in harsh circumstances and whilst under pressure. You’ll have to adapt to changing circumstances, and you’ll have to be prepared for the worst. Going to Mars isn’t a simple task; there’s a lot of work to do to ensure it’s a suitably sustainable place for humans to reside, and considering there’s currently very little oxygen in the atmosphere, it’s not all that unlikely that something bad happens, leaving you in a compromising situation where you’ll have to have your wits about you. I’m not saying something bad is going to happen, just that you should be prepared for it; it’s considerably more likely than on Earth!

Additionally, I imagine you ought to be optimistic if you’re embarking on an adventure such as this. Being down when something undesirable happens makes you less likely be useful to have around. This is especially important when you’ll need to all be working together as much as possible in order to survive and thrive on Mars.

This brings me on to my last point; you should be able to work well and cooperate as a team. Teamwork will be vital when it comes to ensuring the necessary things get done in good time and fashion once you’re on Mars, and this will be very important if the civilisation is to advance to be able to accommodate more and more people. Also, the official language on Mars will be English, so you’re going to need to speak it to a decent level if you’re going to be able to work effectively as a team.

All in all, provided you’re healthy (and not prone to motion sickness), motivated, resourceful, optimistic and good at keeping on your toes, on top of having $200,000 available, you should be good to go — if you want to that is.

If you’re interested, be sure to check out SpaceX’s full video below, where Elon Musk explains the interplanetary transport system in more detail (Very exciting!)

SpaceX’s video showing the interplanetary transport system in more depth