Elon Musk Won’t Be First Person to Mars for Fear of Dying

September 29, 2016, 3:53 PM UTC
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SpaceX founder and CEO Elon Musk has grand ambitions to get you to Mars. But that doesn’t mean he’ll be the first person to land on Mars.

Musk said that the dangers associated with going to Mars are simply too great for him to want to be the first person to Mars in an interview published on Thursday by Business Insider. More specifically, Musk said he’d be too worried about dying.

“I don’t think so. I’m not really sure. I’d have to have a really good succession plan because the likelihood of death is very high,” Musk said in response to a question asking whether he’d be the first person on Mars. “And I’d like to see my kids grow up and everything.”

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Musk on Tuesday spoke at the International Astronautical Congress (IAC) in Guadalajara, Mexico, where he pitched his plan to go to Mars and colonize the Red Planet in a keynote entitled “Making Humans a Multiplanetary Species.” Musk talked in more detail than ever about his plans at getting people to Mars, saying his space company SpaceX will get them there.

SpaceX (SPACEX) is currently working on the plan and hopes to get its Dragon cargo console to Mars as early as 2018. A human SpaceX mission could launch from Earth in 2024 and arrive on Mars the next year.

“I want to make Mars seem possible,” Musk said during his keynote where he talked about the technical details required to get humans to Mars. He added that the ticket to go to Mars—a one-way ticket at that—could cost around $200,000 per person.

Musk and SpaceX are not alone in planning a Mars voyage: NASA said it hopes to send humans to Mars in the 2030s.

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Regardless of the timeline, everyone agrees that humans will have a rough time on Mars, where gravity is weaker, parts of the planet are extremely cold, and radiation is a concern. Musk said in the interview that anyone who wants to go to Mars must be “prepared to die.”

And Musk isn’t ready to die.

“This is less about who goes there first,” Musk said, according to Business Insider. “The thing that really matters is making a self-sustaining civilization on Mars as fast as possible. [It’s about] protecting life and ensuring that the line of consciousness is not extinguished, which I think is incredibly important.”

Correction on 9/30/16 at 8:21 a.m. ET: An earlier version of the interview published by Business Insider said Musk was referring to going to Mars. He was actually referring to being the first person on Mars. This story has been updated accordingly.

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