Make It One Way Ticket To Mars Please, My Good Sir

Oh, those are available already? Not so much, but yes by 2022 you can say “off with his head” or rather off with him to Mars to all and anyone around you. You just need the teeny, tiny amount of 10 Billion dollars (more on this later).

You know the SpaceX guy, originally the PayPal guy, the one who is making vertical landing rockets? Yep, yep Elon Musk, he is the one we are talking of. Last month he detailed his plan of settling human civilization on Mars. Why does he want to do it? Because it is his life mission to “make life interplanetary”. Why did he make this his mission? Well according to him, mankind is on path that will have only two outcomes: one that we go KABOOM and become as extinct as the Dodo. Second, that we grab all that empty space in the Universe and “become a spacefaring civilisation”, thus surviving.

The Money:

Yes, Mr. Elon those are the most probable endings, but where are you getting the money from? Building a spacecraft that can take us to Mars and return takes boat loads and boat loads of mudra. Some of it is being forked over by SpaceX itself. While some of it will apparently come from a Kickstarter campaign and the third person/thing funding it will be “steal underpants”. A bit of research and one decodes “steal underpants” as the joke it was meant to be. It refers to an episode of South Park where gnomes make a clear as fog plan of profiting using underpants. Ahaan, that’s how I like my jokes with a reference book attached for better understanding.

Long and short of it is that the funding angle is a dark pit hole at present. But at a later stage the company will go in a public-private sector to fuel the costs. By now the 10B ticket fare is getting clearer in your head, isn’t it?

The Ship:

When one of the geniuses of present time metaphorically genuflects to another genius, who sadly has passed away, you take a moment to soak it in. Turns out the first ship that will be carrying people to Mars is called Heart of Gold. It’s an homage to author Douglas Adams, who created the mind bending idea of ‘infinite improbability drive’ in his novel The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy. The ship that was powered by the infinite improbability drive was called Heart of Gold. The drive “passes through every conceivable point in every conceivable universe simultaneously”, doing away with the tedious time taken to travel interstellar distances, hence the namesake.

The ship will have a booster that will launch Heart of Gold and then return to Earth for the next module. This next module would be then launched to refuel the interplanetary craft. The spacecraft would be of astronomical proportions: 12 meters in diameter and 122 meters tall. For context; the two together, the reusable booster and the “interplanetary module”, would be as big as a Boeing 747. It will have the capacity to carry 100 passengers at a time and will come equipped with restaurants and cinemas! The trip to Mars will be available only every 26 months because it is at that point that the two planets are closest to each other.

Because the interplanetary craft can be refuelled in orbit, Musk hopes that it will eventually be capable of travelling to other parts of the solar system too. How does it get the fuel to return to Earth? While it is on Mars, it will manufacture fuel using water and carbon dioxide. You can watch the stimulation of the trip here:

The Ticket:

Remember the no proper funding part? Add to that all the other costs involved. A ticket = 10 Billion dollars per person. This cost is an estimate if we use the present established means to fly off to Mars. Mr. Elon opines that the price will decrease over time as technology advances. The ticket could also be as cheap as 200,000 dollars. If, and that is a big IF, about a million people sign up for the trip.

Morgan Freeman said a “hell no” to the trip when Stephen Colbert asked him about it. NASA has given big thumbs up to the trip saying it “applauds all those who want to take the next giant leap and advance the journey to Mars”. Mr. Musk himself will not be journeying with The First 100. Why? Because the probability of meeting your maker on the maiden trip is high as a kite. I have just one question – will there be toilets out there on Mars? We have just crossed the era of water-closets and outhouses. Peeing and pooing in the great outback is so passé.

Plumbing man, it is all about Plumbing!

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