Posted August 31, 2015

Elon Musks drive for Mars

On the web there's plenty to read about Elon Musk and his various enterprises. Most stories are about some tiny part of the guy's vision. But if there is a Whole Story, this is it.

The other day I came across this link pointing to an article called How (and Why) SpaceX will colonize Mars. Interesting, I thought, I clicked, and started reading. But soon I noticed that this was a rather long article: longer than one screen anyway. The scrollbar to the right indicated it was probably many screens. Using the Page Down button I counted how many. It turned out to be sixty-seven screens. What's more, at the bottom I found links to parts 2-5 of the same story. What's even more, this five part story turned out to be the third chapter of a four chapter story. This was a freaking book! No wait, don't click away, stay with me.

There are many reasons why you should take a look despite the tldr thoughts that you have right now. Here are some of those reasons.

1. It appears the author, Tim Urban of, was called by Elon Musk himself, who requested to be interviewed by him. How cool can your life be?

2. Not only did he have access to Elon  Musk, he also was allowed to read a brand new biography that hasn't yet been published (but can be pre-ordered on Amazon).

3. The story gives you a chronology of Musks life so far, pictures his enterprises and what role they play in his plans, sends you on tours of the solar system and the history of spaceflight and finally explains his strategy for conquering Mars.

4. It's probably not as long as you think now, since there are many pictures in it as well as some reasonably funny cartoons. Also, only the third chapter is itself divided into multiple parts. The other chapters are single ones.

5. Of course it's long! Many parts of the space business are long term endeavours. A story about Elon Musks plans to go to Mars needs to be long read, or it won't be any good.

6. If there is some part you think you don't need to read, just skip it. That's what I did.

Before sending you off, I'll tell you what I liked. I liked the first chapter, which describes how SpaceX and Tesla both almost failed in 2008, it sketches Musks management style and lists his worries, which have led him to plan for an escape to Mars for humanity.

Also, I liked part four of the third chapter, about what SpaceX really is for, apart from the mundane commercial necessity of sending stuff to space for money. And last but not least part five of the third chapter, about how Mars could be colonized.

Chapter four of the overall series isn't up yet, but if you start reading now it will be a while before you miss it. Have fun!





About Herbert Blankesteijn

Herbert Blankesteijn is a technology journalist from the Netherlands who has written for many prominent Dutch newspapers. He presented and directed television and radio programmes and has 10 books to his name. Herbert is interested in nascent fields such as 3D printing, drones, robotics and the private space business.