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Sunday 30 April 2017

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mars

A photo of Mars from NASA's Viking spacecraft, which launched in 1975. - Image credit: The Viking Project/NASA

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Elon Musk: “I’m Planning To Retire To Mars”

HAWTHORNE, Calif. — The fresh-faced 39-year-old man, in a dark T-shirt and jeans, is talking about travelling to Mars. Not now, but when he’s older and ready to swap life on Earth for one on the red planet. “It would be a good place to retire,” he says in all seriousness. Normally, this would be the time to make one’s excuses and leave the company of a lunatic. Or to smile politely and humour a space nerd’s unlikely fantasies. But this man needs to be taken seriously for one compelling reason: he already has his own spaceship.

This is Elon Musk, a brilliant entrepreneur who made a fortune from the Internet and has invested vast amounts of it in building his own private space rocket company, SpaceX. Indeed, far from being crazy, Musk is the real-life inspiration for the movie character Tony Stark, the playboy scientist hero of the Iron Man franchise.

There are some similarities. Outside the SpaceX plant in the baking southern California sun, Musk’s sexy electric sports car sits in a reserved parking space (he co-founded Tesla, the firm which makes the vehicle), resembling the sort of motor Stark would drive. Musk is also engaged to the beautiful British actress Talulah Riley, star of St Trinian’s and St Trinian’s 2, and he used to get thrills from flying his own private military jet fighter.

What’s more, like Stark, Musk is on a mission to save the world. But while Stark’s aim was to battle evil-doers and achieve world peace, Musk’s mission is a little grander. He wants to secure humanity’s future by turning the human race into a space-faring people able to colonise other planets. It’s the only way, Musk believes, that we can be saved, either from destroying ourselves or from some outside calamity. To put it mildly, Musk thinks big and takes the long view.

mars

Mars current landscape at sunset. - Image credit: NASA

“It’s important that we attempt to extend life beyond Earth now,” he says in an accent hinting at his childhood in South Africa. “It is the first time in the four billion-year history of Earth that it’s been possible and that window could be open for a long time – hopefully it is – or it could be open for a short time. We should err on the side of caution and do something now.

read the complete interview and article by Paul Harris at The Guardian web site: http://www.guardian.co.uk/

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