Popular Mechanics - Breakthrough Leadership Award: Elon Musk
Elon Musk Q&A:
Cool Q&A, thanks for sharing it Austin!
Glad to see he wants to emigrate to Mars before he inflicts his eventual senility on TM! Considerate of him ...
Wow, I think he exaggerated a bit when saying that we would have to send millions of people to form a permanent settlement on Mars, though, I'm guessing he has thought about it more than I have.
I guess it depends on what he means by "permanent settlement". If by that he means a self-sustaining colony, then surely it would be a huge effort, but I would think you could start with thousands of people, not millions. And even then, it depends on what you mean by self-sustaining. If by that he means a civilization that could survive for generations with no access/interaction of any kind outside of Mars, then I think that would be a really, really long ways away. But if we're talking about an independent Mars that depends on trade with the Earth to survive, but is otherwise self-sustaining and permanent, I think that wouldn't take that long to start, assuming there was some economic value to staying on Mars, and I don't think you would necessarily need millions of people to kickstart it.
I mean depending on your definition, a "permanent settlement" like Hawaii or even all of the US could be considered NOT self-sustaining (though they could be if circumstances forced it).
From the "Generation ship" article on Wikipedia, it is suggested that a starting population of 150 to 180 could breed normally for 60 to 80 generations, roughly 2000 years. Bringing along a sperm bank and good genetic screening for the initial population to maximize biodiversity or increasing the initial population increases the probability of longer term success.
Can't imagine all the problems a new settlement on Mar's may pose. What if someone on Mar's desperately needed a transplant, they wouldn't live long enough for the body part to arrive. There will be other issues that would have to be considered and new solutions to combat them, like growing the parts or get that Star Trek teleport to work already! BEAM ME UP LONNY! :)
@BYT - The "draft user manual" is probably similar to "Moon is a Harsh Mistress" also known as TNSTASFL. (Robert A. Heinlein)