Is the future of human colonisation on Mars a distant dream or a displaced delusion?

  • The world is witnessing a boom in the field of space tourism with the advent of commercial space flights.
  • Innovators such as Elon Musk, CEO of SpaceX, believe that research and technological advancements can aid in the future colonization of Mars for the purpose of escaping the Earth due to climate change and pollution among other factors.
  • Royal Astronomer Lord Martin Rees and astronomer Neil deGrasse Tyson have both abolished Musk’s ideas as delusional and have asserted that colonizing Mars is not possible.

The world has undoubtedly witnessed a boom in the space sector in the past years. Once conventionally, what used to be a segment of the field of science, under the strict control and monopoly of Government institutions such as the National Aeronautics and Space Administration(NASA) in the USA, the advent of major private players in the game cannot be easily dismissed. One of the prime examples of such an organization is Space Exploration Technologies Corporation(SpaceX) leaded by the richest man on Earth, Mr. Elon Musk.

What is the idea of space tourism?

Any human being who’s not living under the rock or in exile is well aware of the extensive media coverage on the phenomenal wonder of technology, that is commercial space flights. What earlier used to be a privilege extended only to highly trained astronauts, was now a possibility within the finger’s reach of the common man.

These space flights, currently an exclusive mode of transport available only to exclusive men, those being a few of the richest billionaires on earth, gave rise to what is best described in pop culture, as a “space race” between said men. Multiple examples of such lucky, and wealthy, men who undertook their own flights to space include Mr. Richard Branson, the owner of Virgin Group, and Mr. Jeff Bezos, the ex-CEO of Amazon, both of whom undertook their journey in July 2021.

However, the actual turning point in the history of space tourism came with the Inspiration4 mission, a joint collaboration between NASA and Musk’s SpaceX. By the virtue of this mission four untrained civilians, Jared Isaacman, Hayley Arceneaux, Christopher Sembroski, and Sian Proctor orbited around the Earth on the Crew Dragon Resilience Capsule launched off at Kennedy Space Center on 15th September 2021. The aim of this mission was a double-edged sword. On one hand, it was done for the charitable cause of raising money for children at the St. Jude Hospital and Research Center, and on the other, this mission served as a stepping stone toward SpaceX CEO Elon Musk’s dream of colonizing Mars.

Musk’s dream for the red planet

Elon Musk is an infamous personality on Twitter. From deciding upon major stock transactions via a Twitter poll to openly exclaiming his will to build sustainable settlements on Earth’s neighboring planet, Musk has done it all.

In a tweet made in March 2019 Musk declared the need of developing housing options on the red planet and since then, he has been highly vocal about the need to do so. Musk has exclaimed his desire to witness humans as a multi-planetary species and with theories ranging from the utter doom of Earth via meteors and asteroid showers predicted in upcoming years, to the actual pressing need to conserve our planet’s precariously depleting resources, even staunch environmentalists agree that there’s some truth whatsoever in Musk’s assumptions.

With the increasingly approaching danger signs of global climate change and the ever-looming problem of population size, it’s a wonder that humans have survived on Earth as a species for so long. In the future, however, that might not be the case as nature decided to finally stand against it. Hence the problem, combined with the advancements in technology with respect to opening up the space sector commercially, presents the best solution which everyone wants, the colonization of Mars.

“A dangerous illusion”?

Although many scientists seem to believe in Musk’s ideas for settlement on Mars, the age-old saying of not both sides of the coin are the same has never rung truer. At a World Government Summit panel held in Dubai, Lord Rees, a distinguished royal astronomer professor since 1995, ridiculed Musk’s plans.

According to Sky News, Lord Martin Rees called Elon Musk’s idea to colonize Mars a “dangerous illusion.” He went on to add that the notion was simply described as a publicity-seeking bid justified by a billionaire’s ambitions. Rees also stated that the only reason for humans to go to space should be limited in the terms of its definition for the sole purpose of exploration. He says that as a planet, Mars appears to be hostile to human settlement and for sustaining life and he compared it to trying to live at the South Pole or Mount Everest.

Musk’s concept didn’t impress the leading and beloved astronomer Dr Neil deGrasse Tyson. DeGrasse Tyson seemed to agree with Rees and echoed his sentiment. He stated that transporting the population of a billion people to another planet to assist them in surviving a disaster on Earth seemed potentially unfeasible.

After being denounced by some of the experts in the field, the idea of living on Mars seems to be in a distant and rather obscure future. Whether or not it’ll be a realized dream will be interesting to watch. However that being said, the concept of space tourism has in reality, with the true purpose of its term, opened doors to allow humans to become a space-faring civilization.

Disclaimer: This information is covered based on the latest research and development available. However, it may not fully reflect all current aspects of the subject matter.

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