Human colonies on Mars could be built within our lifetime, according to SpaceX CEO Elon Musk who has outlined his vision for a self-sustaining city on the red planet in a new study.
In the study, Musk explored the planetary options for expanding to a space-bearing civilisation and described the advantages Mars offers.
He provided a comprehensive review of a system architecture required for a rocket and spaceship capable of transporting people and supplies to Mars, comparing possible vehicle designs and performance features.
A major challenge facing engineers and scientists at present is the need to reduce the cost per tonne of transporting materials to Mars by five million per cent.
"By talking about the SpaceX Mars architecture, I want to make Mars seem possible - make it seem as though it is something that we can do in our lifetime. There really is a way that anyone could go if they wanted to," said Musk, founder of the US-based space transport services company.
"History is going to bifurcate along two directions. One path is we stay on Earth forever, and then there will be some eventual extinction event," he said.
"I do not have an immediate doomsday prophecy, but eventually, history suggests, there will be some doomsday event," he added.
"The alternative is to become a space-bearing civilisation and a multi-planetary species, which I hope you would agree is the right way to go," Musk said in the study published in the journal New Space.