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Elon Musk: We Need a Million People to Colonize Mars

It would take at least a million people to create a healthy civilization on Mars, Elon Musk, the billionaire behind SpaceX and Tesla, said in an interview with Aeon Magazine. Of course, there are not exactly buses leaving for Mars every half hour. The largest crew ever to fly into space was made up of eight astronauts. Musk wants to send up 100 people at a time — a process, he noted, that would require 10,000 trips, not including the ships needed to transport supplies. Such a feat would likely require something like the Mars Colonial Transporter, a massive spaceship that Musk has publicly talked about building. Musk said that 1 million people are needed to build a sustainable industrial base on a planet with such harsh conditions. (The billionaire had previously mentioned a human colony figure of 80,000).Why even bother? Because life on a single planet is vulnerable to disease and other catastrophes, he told Aeon, and colonizing Mars is necessary to "safeguard the existence of humanity."

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— Keith Wagstaff