Britain's chief astrophysicist Lord Martin Rees and American astrophysicist and science educator Neil deGrasse Tyson have criticized Elon Musk’s idea of creating a colony on Mars.
"The only reason for humans to go to space would be for adventure. To live on Mars is not going to be easy. Mars has a hostile environment,” Lord Rees said, stressing that "the idea of Elon Musk to have a million people settle on Mars is a dangerous delusion,” and comparing living on Mars to living at the South Pole or on the tip of Mount Everest.
Lord Martin Rees spoke at a World Government Summit panel in Dubai alongside Neil deGrasse Tyson, who also said that "to ship a billion people to another planet to help them survive a catastrophe on Earth seems unrealistic," adding that Mars needs to be terraformed if people wanted to call the planet home.
"It is so much easier to make Earth return to Earth again rather than terraforming Mars,” Dr Tyson said.
The American astrophysicist noted, however, that Space is an inspiration for young people and “it is an area we need to support”.
This is not the first time the scholars have expressed their scepticism in relation to space travel: in 2018, Lord Rees doubted the colonisation of Mars, saying that there is no good reason to populate this planet and adding that people should rather concentrate on solutions to the problems they caused on Earth, namely climate change.
Neil deGrasse Tyson said in 2017 that the Martian environment is not hospitable to human habitation, and making it so would require serious leaps in technology.
Setting Off for Mars
Elon Musk outlined his plan to build a city on Mars 'in our lifetimes' in 2016. According to the tech billionaire’s vision, the first rocket should propel humans to the Red Planet by 2025.
"We need to go from these early exploration missions to actually building a city," Musk said.
Last year Musk said in an interview that the first humans will land on Mars in six years, saying that “… it's going to be a great adventure” and that would be “one of the most exciting things that ever happened if you don't die”.
The tech mogul’s SpaceX Company is currently conducting test flights of the vehicle that poised to deliver humans to Mars. So far, three high-altitude tests were semi-successful, with two of the starships successfully launching, turning back, but getting destroyed due to a hard landing and another one exploding minutes after landing. The date of the next test flight is to be announced.