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The Age of Space Colonization May Almost be Here, Says One Man

Mar 27, 2013 04:31 PM EDT
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This is what it's like to spend eight months on Mars

Even as climate change renders the world less inhabitable every year for humans and wildlife, some are thinking of leaving it.

Eric Anderson is the chairman and co-founder of Space Adventures, a private company whose product is helping individuals live out their dreams of visiting space. And according to a recent article published in The Atlantic, he and his colleague Elon Musk are working hard to reduce the cost of future flights to Mars to an even $500,000.

Though, Aderson said, he believes that even if they have to settle for something a little bit higher - say a few million dollars per person - this is still low enough to encourage colonization on the neighboring planet.

"To me the question is, does it happen in the next 30 years, or does it happen in the next 60 to 70 years?" Anderson told the Atlantic. "There's no question it's going to happen in this century, and that's a pretty exciting thing."

The delay, Anderson believes, and the only reason the process hasn't already started, is not a matter of technology - it's a matter of economics.

The key? Asteroids.

"It would have been pretty tough for the settlers who went to California if they'd had to bring every supply they would ever need along with them from the East Coast," he said.

Space settlers, he believes would be able to "live off the land" by mining near-Earth asteroids for their water and metals. But mining doesn't have to wait for people to pack their bags - asteroid mining, Anderson believes, is likely to become a highly profitable business in the very near future. Again, the trick is lowering the price of space flight, but Space Adventures already has plans underway for "asteroid reconnaissance," according to the interview, during which four small space crafts will be sent to gather information regarding an asteroid's physical makeup.

"We're really not talking about if; we're talking about when."

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