Elon Musk will be first person to live on Mars, says a man building a nuclear fusion rocket thruster to make journeys to the Red Planet faster.
Richard Dinan, CEO of Pulsar Fusion, took Daily Star Online on a tour around the prototype thruster – which was successfully tested earlier this year – and told us who he thought the pioneering Martians will be.
"I think, probably very likely Elon Musk" he said with a laugh. "He is going to be there."
"As to whether or not you’d want to be there… if you look at some of the pictures coming from the Mars rover…"
NASA's rovers have certainly not painted a pretty picture of life on Mars, with Opportunity taking footage of dust storms and panoramas of barren wastelands.
Richard also pointed out that Mars is further away from the sun, making it dangerously cold, with an average surface temperature of a nippy -60C.
Even worse, suffering colonists could not bail out because trips to and from the planet could only happen once every 26 months – when the orbits of Earth and Mars are at their closest.
Richard said: “The sun is smaller and it’s very hard to get back to Earth once you're there. You have to wait because of the orbits.
“I don’t know if you’d want to swap this incredible planet for this current wasteland that it is at the moment. It’s like living in a desert. A cold desert."
He added: “I can see the mission and how incredible it is to be an interplanetary species – so exciting – but I’m not sure I’d want to myself making web calls from Mars… It would not be fun.”
Elon Musk himself has said he wants to visit the Red Planet – but has made it clear we need guinea pigs.
"The probability of death on the first mission is quite high," the SpaceX CEO told attendees at International Astronautical Congress in 2016.
But he also said: “I would like to go to orbit, visit the Space Station and ultimately go to Mars."
And, at a recent conference, he revealed his fears that his company may not even be able to make it to Mars in his lifetime.
Richard says fusion-powered thrusters will see rockers hurtle through space at 25,000 km/s which will make Musk's dream of colonising Mars closer to reality.
The minimum distance from the Earth to Mars is about 54.6 million kilometers, an impossible distance with traditional combustion rockets, Richard said.
“There are 2.2 billion potentially-habitable planets in the Milky Way," he explained. "They might as well not be there at the moment because we have no way of getting near them.
"Can we make nuclear fusion work? Yes we will, for sure. Can we use it as a rocket? Certainly. So it’s pretty exciting.”
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