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Elon Musk said life on Mars won't be luxurious — it will be 'cramped, difficult, hard work'

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  • Elon Musk said in an interview that living on Mars will be dangerous, especially at first.
  • Insider previously reported that a human without special equipment would die within minutes on Mars.
  • The billionaire wants to build a self-sustaining city on the planet in the coming decades.
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Colonising Mars won't be for the faint of heart, according to SpaceX CEO Elon Musk.

"It's very important to emphasise that Mars, especially in the beginning, will not be luxurious," Musk said in a video interview with Chris Anderson, the head of TED conferences, published on Monday. "It will be dangerous, cramped, difficult, hard work."

The billionaire compared recruitment efforts for Mars to an ad from the 1900s for an expedition to Antarctica with explorer Ernest Shackleton. The ad has since been debunked as a myth, but called for men willing to go on a "hazardous journey" and said a safe return was "doubtful."

"The sales pitch for going to Mars is, 'It's dangerous, it's cramped. You might not make it back. It's difficult, it's hard work,'" Musk said.

Living on Mars, a planet with an average temperature of -80 degrees Fahrenheit, would be far more difficult than living in Antarctica, a region with an average temperature of -70 degrees Fahrenheit.

Mars has a rocky surface, riddled with volcanoes and canyons. The planet also has about one-third the gravity of Earth and a thinner atmosphere that would not be breathable for humans. Insider previously reported that a human without special equipment would die within minutes on the planet due to Mars' low atmospheric pressure. 

Musk wants to build a full-size city on Mars. In 2019, the billionaire estimated it would take one million tons of cargo to build a self-sustaining city on the planet — a process that would cost anywhere from $100 billion to $10 trillion, Musk estimated.

The billionaire told Anderson that he hopes the people that would colonise Mars would take the opportunity to "rethink society."

"I think this is important for maximising the probable life span for humanity or consciousness," Musk told Anderson. "Human civilization could come to an end for external reasons like a giant meteor or super volcanoes or extreme climate change or World War III, or you know, any one of a number of reasons."

The richest man in the world told Anderson that SpaceX would determine a price point for tickets on future rockets to Mars that would be relatively affordable for most people, citing a $100,000 hypothetical ticket price.

Musk's company SpaceX plans to build the self-sustaining city in the coming decades. Though, the billionaire told Anderson that he anticipates he will be "long dead" before his dream can become reality.

In 2020, Musk said he hoped to build 1,000 Starships over 10 years and planned to send 1 million people to Mars by 2050. He has also said that the first human on Mars might land in 2029.

The SpaceX CEO told Anderson that he anticipates the space company could have its first orbital launch for the Starship "within a few months," pending regulatory approval.

"Success is not guaranteed, but excitement certainly is," Musk said.

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