How much will a Mars trip cost you? Musk answers
Elon Musk's vision of colonizing Mars is no secret, but the question of how much a trip to Mars would cost an average person has long been looming heavy. Now, in his usual Twitter chatter, the SpaceX CEO has revealed what he believes a Mars trip will cost, and interestingly, he thinks one can sell their home and move to the Red Planet. Here's more.
Responding to a tweet about how much a trip to the Moon or Mars would cost accounting for the re-usability of rockets, Musk replied that the costs would vary on the volume. However, he added that moving to Mars one day would cost below $500,000, even maybe less than $100,000, including a return ticket if things don't work out.
Very dependent on volume, but I’m confident moving to Mars (return ticket is free) will one day cost less than $500k maybe even below $100k. Low enough that most people in advanced economies could sell their home on Earth move to Mars if they want.— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) February 11, 2019
How exactly did Musk arrive at the figure? We don't know. What we do know is that he had earlier claimed that the massive spaceship that will purportedly take around a 100 people to Mars at a time, dubbed Starship, would probably cost less than the Falcon 9 rocket which SpaceX currently uses for launching satellites into orbit.
On Sunday, Musk claimed on Twitter that launching the same mass of payload that Falcon 9 carries would cost "at least 10X cheaper" using a Starship, owing to the system's size and the fact that it'd be fully reusable. SpaceX currently charges about $62mn for one launch of the Falcon 9, which can carry a payload of 25 tons into low-Earth orbit.
As per Musk, the Starship will be designed to carry not just 100 people to Mars, but would also carry 100 tons of cargo at the same time.
The Starship's full re-usability would limit launch costs to just refuelling and refurbishing parts, thereby lower costs in the longer haul. Further, Musk claimed that in a "radical" shift in design, the Starship would be built using low-cost stainless steel alloys instead of lightweight but extremely strong carbon fiber composites. Earlier, Musk had said that using steel would enable Starship to be lightweight, thereby allowing it to carry more cargo at a time.
Musk had, in December, explained that while steel costs $3 per kilogram, carbon fiber can cost up to $200 per kilogram - a whopping 66-fold difference in prices.
Over the weekend, Musk also shared details about the truck-sized Raptor engine that will power the Starship and its booster, Super Heavy. The SpaceX CEO even shared technical details about the engine, and said that it had already been fired six times at a SpaceX facility in Texas. He added that further tests would be conducted soon, wherein the engine would be launched on "hops" up to a few miles high.
It's expected that six truck-sized Raptor engines will power the 18-storey tall Starship, while up to 31 Raptor engines could power its 22-storey booster, Super Heavy.