Elon Musk says Mars colonists will live in giant glass domes and use mining robots

The first Martian colonists will live in giant glass domes and using mining robots to help expand their homes if Elon Musk gets his way.

The SpaceX founder did a question-and-answer “AMA” session on Reddit on Sunday, in which he discussed his company’s recently announced plans to take the first humans to Mars and build permanent bases there.

SpaceX ultimately wants to see a million people living on the Red Planet — and the plan is to start in 2022. In September, Musk provided details on how he hopes to get people there, and now his AMA sheds a little more light on how they will live when they arrive.

People will apparently live in big glass-carbon fibre domes on the surface, with additional areas mined out below the surface by robots for “industrial” uses. “Initially, glass panes with carbon fibre frames to build geodesic domes on the surface, plus a lot of miner/tunnelling droids,” Musk wrote.

“With the latter, you can build out a huge amount of pressurised space for industrial operations and leave the glass domes for green living space.”

The first crewed mission will be tasked with building a “rudimentary” base, as well as a propellant plant. The “Heart of Gold” spacecraft — named after the spaceship in “The Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy” — won’t come with any fuel for the return journey, so no one will be able to return to Earth unless the colonists can successfully extract propellant from the Martian atmosphere.

It’s a wildly ambitious plan, one that could transform the future of humanity. But it won’t come cheap. Elon Musk has previously said that it would cost a staggering $10 billion (£8.1 billion) per astronaut, if they were to send just 12. Hence the focus on scale: If 1 million people sign up, it will — he claims — cost just $200,000 (£163,000) a pop.

You can read the full Q&A over on Reddit »

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