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Civilization on Mars could take 100 years to establish, says Elon Musk

The SpaceX leader publishes his plan to colonize Mars, outlining challenges for bringing lots of people to the red planet.

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Elon Musk can envision a self-sustaining human society living on Mars, but that won't be happening anytime soon.

The Tesla and SpaceX leader published his plan for colonizing Mars, in which he outlines many points of his roadmap toward getting people up to the red planet. And he's not thinking of just having a small colony of humans living the Martian life; he's looking at getting 1 million people there over the course of 10,000 flights.

"How long it would take to reach that million-person threshold, from the point at which the first ship goes to Mars would probably be somewhere between 20 and 50 total Mars rendezvous -- so it would take 40 to 100 years to achieve a fully self-sustaining civilization on Mars," Musk said in the paper.

Musk also goes over obstacles such as the high cost per person currently involved in getting people to space, logistics for what is needed to get people to Mars, and even looking at trips beyond Mars where people could go "planet hopping" around the solar system.

Musk noted on Twitter that more details on his plans are on the way.

"Mars V2 plan coming soon, which I think addresses the most fundamental flaw in V1: how to pay for development and operation of giant rockets," Musk said.