“A City on Mars is Possible. That’s What All This is About.”
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Last week’s successful demonstration of a reusable rocket, launched by Elon Musk's firm SpaceX, “was a critical step along the way towards being able to establish a city on Mars,” Musk later remarked. The proof-of-concept flight “dramatically improves my confidence that a city on Mars is possible,” he added. “That’s what all this is about.”
Previously, of course, Musk had urged the Royal Aeronautical Society to view Mars as a place where “you can start a self-sustaining civilization and grow it into something really big.” He later elaborated on these ideas in an interview with Aeon’s Ross Anderson, discussing optimistic but still purely speculative plans for “a citylike colony that he expects to be up and running by 2040.” In Musk’s own words, “If we have linear improvement in technology, as opposed to logarithmic, then we should have a significant base on Mars, perhaps with thousands or tens of thousands of people,” within this century.
Last week's successful demonstration of reusable rocket technology was thus, for Musk and his corporate hype-fueled imagination, a kind of future-ancestral historical moment for the founders of that Martian encampment.
(Elsewhere: Off-world colonies of the Canadian Arctic and BLDGBLOG’s earlier interview with novelist Kim Stanley Robinson).