Elon Musk just wrapped up an intricate and thorough presentation that covered his and SpaceX's vision of humans building a city on the surface of Mars. But throughout that talk, he didn't actually address exactly who should go. During the Q&A session that followed, the question inevitably came up: what sort of person does Musk think will volunteer to get strapped to that big rocket and fired toward the Red Planet? "Who should these people be, carrying the light of humanity to Mars for all of us?" an audience member asked. "I think the first journeys to Mars will be really very dangerous," answered Musk. "The risk of fatality will be high. There's just no way around it." The journey itself would take around 80 days, according to the plan and ideas that Musk put forward.
"Are you prepared to die? If that's okay, then you're a candidate for going," he added. But Musk didn't want to get stuck talking about the risks and immense danger. "This is less about who goes there first... the thing that really matters is making a self-sustaining civilization on Mars as fast as possible. This is different than Apollo. This is really about minimizing existential risk and having a tremendous sense of adventure," he said.
And while accidental death may be a strong possibility in those first few attempts to get humans on Mars, Musk doesn't seem to think that outcome will dissuade people who want to make an incredible mark on life.
"It would be an incredible adventure. I think it would be the most inspiring thing that I can possibly imagine. Life needs to be more than just solving problems every day. You need to wake up and be excited about the future, and be inspired, and want to live."