‘A bunch of people will probably die’: Elon Musk gets candid on Mars tourism in barefoot interview

‘If an arduous and dangerous journey where you might not come back alive, but it’s a glorious adventure, sounds appealing, Mars is the place. That’s the ad for Mars,’ Musk says

Gustaf Kilander
Washington, DC
Friday 23 April 2021 22:32 BST
Elon Musk says ‘a bunch of people will probably die’ during Mars venture
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Tesla and SpaceX CEO Elon Musk got candid about Mars exploration in an interview, casually saying that "a bunch of people will probably die in the beginning".

Speaking to XPrize founder and chairman Peter Diamandis during a live stream Thursday announcing the $100 million Carbon Removal project, Mr Musk said going to Mars wasn't an "escape hatch for rich people".

XPrize describes itself as an organisation that uses “large-scale global incentive competitions to crowdsource solutions to the world’s grand challenges”.

The $100 million XPrize Carbon Removal competition is challenging people to develop projects that will put away and extract carbon dioxide in an effort to draw down the perilously high emissions currently being let out into the atmosphere.

Mr Musk cautioned during the interview that travelling to Mars will be "dangerous, it's uncomfortable, it's a long journey, you might not come back alive, but it's a glorious adventure and it'll be an amazing experience".

"And your name will go into history," Dr Diamandis interjected.

"You might not," Mr Musk responded. "It's going to be uncomfortable and you probably won't have good food, and all these things, you know."

"If an arduous and dangerous journey where you might not come back alive, but it's a glorious adventure, sounds appealing, Mars is the place. That's the ad for Mars," Mr Musk said.

"And you still have thousands of volunteers, if not millions of volunteers who would want to go," Dr Diamandis said.

"Honestly, a bunch of people probably will die in the beginning. It's tough sledging over there, you know," Mr Musk said.

"We don't make anyone go," he added. "It's volunteers only," a chuckling Mr Musk said.

A barefoot Mr Musk spoke with Dr Diamandis on Thursday in Cape Canaveral on Florida's eastern coast.

The challenge announced on the live stream is “aimed at tackling the biggest threat facing humanity - fighting climate change and rebalancing Earth’s carbon cycle,” the site for the competition says.

"This four-year global competition invites innovators and teams from anywhere on the planet to create and demonstrate solutions that can pull carbon dioxide directly from the atmosphere or oceans, and sequester it durably and sustainably," the site states.

The competition is being funded by Mr Musk's philanthropic organisation . $100m will be the biggest amount of money that the foundation has ever handed out.

Mr Musk has donated $150m to various charities this year, a sum larger than every year previously combined. He's donating money so fast that he sometimes neglects to notify the beneficiary, Vox's Recode reported.

The outlet reported on Thursday that Mr Musk's philanthropic team has no full-time staff and is reaching out to others for advice on how to best donate money.

Mr Musk tweeted on 7 January: "Btw, critical feedback is always super appreciated, as well as ways to donate money that really make a difference (way harder than it seems)."

Apart from the $100m for the carbon dioxide removal competition, Mr Musk has committed millions of dollars in the next three months to other causes. He has promised $30m to charities in southern Texas, $5m to online learning platform Khan Academy, $5m to coronavirus researchers in Boston, and $1m to food bank operator Feeding Texas.

A spokesperson for Khan Academy said the donation came as a "surprise," Recode reported.

The Musk Foundation was previously located in California but has been moved to Austin, Texas. Mr Musk confirmed in December that he has moved to Texas as well.

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