Engineer, entrepreneur and visionary, Elon Musk, hopes he can take humanity to Mars.
Musk has had success in his many business ventures, including Tesla Motors, SolarCity and now SpaceX, to name the more popular ones.
SpaceX, founded 14 years ago in California, is a company devoted to being number-one in the privatized space industry.
It became the first organization to put a privately-funded rocket into orbit in 2008.
Since then, the company has developed new space technologies and received contracts from government organizations like NASA to deliver research equipment beyond the atmosphere.
SpaceX’s ultimate plan is to make space travel affordable.
To do this, Musk is taking on the engineering feat of creating reusable spacecraft. This would be a first for any space-faring organization, including NASA, which has never been able to reuse rockets or spaceships after they have returned to Earth.
“The cost of fuel now is about 0.3 percent, with most of the cost being from the building of a rocket. If they were re-usable, space travel would be affordable,” Musk said.
The entrepreneurial opportunities associated with being the first organization to create reusable spacecraft are overwhelming, but Musk seems to be more motivated by dreams than money.
This is perhaps why, and how, he hopes to create and use technology that will bring humans to Mars.
The time frame for getting to Mars is an intentionally vague 40 to 100 years. This is because of difficulties that lie between Musk and Mars.
Challenges with a manned mission to Mars are numerous. They include finances, launching and landing a spacecraft safely, surviving a lengthy flight and surviving a barren terrain by creating a sustainable artificial habitat after arrival.
The opinions on campus seem to reflect concern for the realities of the project.
Kendra Kudla, sophomore interior architecture major, wondered about the practicality of the concept.
“Can he actually do it?” Kudla said.
Nick Figueroa, a sophomore studying neuroscience, believes a manned mission to Mars is at least plausible.
“There’s a lot of stuff that has happened in the last 40 years,” Figueroa said.
Justin Seis, senior sociology and philosophy major, had concerns that went beyond questioning the probability of success.
Seis said, “I think that it’s a nice idea, but at the same time there’s a lot of problems here that we should be prioritizing.”
Musk seems to recognize the questionability of his dream.
He said one day he plans to name SpaceX’s first ship to reach Mars “The Hearth of Gold” in honor of the book Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, in which a ship is run on “infinite improbability.”
Musk does not seem to worry about the far-out notions of his dreams. In fact, he seems motivated by them.