23:47 GMT15 June 2021
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    SpaceX founder and CEO Elon Musk has long nurtured ambitious hopes of one day colonising Mars and sustaining human life there. Recently he took to Twitter to say that launching an uncrewed flight mission to the Red Planet in 2024 was “not out of the question”.

    Multimillionaire Elon Musk, the founder and CEO of SpaceX, who announced last October that his company hoped to send a manned spacecraft to Mars in 2024, may have been prophesised to venture on this ambition back in the 1950s.

    A passage from a book, Mars Project: A Technical Tale (Das Marsprojekt) by German-American rocket physicist Wernher Von Braun has resurfaced after being quoted on social media.

    Dr. Wernher Von Braun, chief of the army ballistic missile agency's development operations, grins in Washington February 1, 1958, as he holds a globe marked with one path of the U.S. satellite. (File)
    © AP Photo
    Dr. Wernher Von Braun, chief of the army ballistic missile agency's development operations, grins in Washington February 1, 1958, as he holds a globe marked with one path of the U.S. satellite. (File)

    The astronautical engineer and space architect who initially worked on Nazi Germany's rocket development programme only to end up being whisked away to the US to help develop rockets that launched America’s first space satellite, Explorer 1, had been a passionate advocate of a human mission to Mars.

    After WWII the pioneer of rocket and space technology in the United States penned a book speculating about life on Mars.

    A passage from the book was quoted in a Twitter thread at the end of last year, after Elon Musk had cryptically tweeted on 30 December that “there was no escaping Destiny”, referencing a quote from Mel Brooks’ 1974 movie, "Young Frankenstein."

    A Twitter user going by the name of Toby Li, who writes for Muskette, a blog devoted to news about the Tesla CEO, responded to Musk’s Twitter post.

    He cited a German-language excerpt from Von Braun's 1953 book, which mentioned a person named “Elon” that would “bring humans to Mars”. It was translated to English by US Navy Lt. Cdr. Henry J. White in 1953.

    Indeed, in his science fiction novel von Braun wrote about a so-called representative democracy on Mars where the leader is called an “Elon”, with the latter not so much a name as a title.

    "The Martian government was directed by ten men, the leader of whom was elected by universal suffrage for five years and titled ‘Elon.’ Two houses of Parliament enacted the laws to be administered by the Elon and his cabinet," wrote the author, according to a translation of the passage.

    The book offers a fictional account of how life on Mars arrived, beginning with the original idea, conceived in a mission planning room on Earth.

    ‘Starship’ to Mars

    Elon Musk, who said at the International Mars Society Convention in 2020 that his more prominent goal was to build a self-sustaining city on Mars, recently took to Twitter to say that launching an uncrewed flight mission in 2024 was “not out of the question”.

    Musk, who earlier this year responded to criticism of his huge wealth by Senator Bernie Sanders, saying on Twitter he would use his money to help “to help make life multiplanetary”, had been responding to a variety of questions about the expected launch date of his mission to Mars.

    The mission is on track to launch to the Red Planet on a SpaceX Starship vehicle, a reusable rocket-and-spacecraft combo currently under development at the company's South Texas facility.

    SpaceX conducts a test launch of its SN15 starship prototype from the company's starship facility in Boca Chica, Texas, U.S. May 5, 2021.
    © REUTERS / Gene Blevins
    SpaceX conducts a test launch of its SN15 starship prototype from the company's starship facility in Boca Chica, Texas, U.S. May 5, 2021.

    One of the world's wealthiest people, Elon Musk last year said that he planned to send a million people to Mars by 2050, creating "a lot of jobs" on the Red Planet.

    He even offered a timeline, saying he was "highly confident" the first SpaceX Starship may land on Mars in 2026.

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    Mars, Mars, SpaceX, SpaceX, Elon Musk, Elon Musk
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