It was no surprise that space fans were pumped about Elon Musk’s plans to go to Mars, which he delineated at the International Aeronautical Congress in Mexico on Tuesday. (Full disclosure: I was among the enthralled.) Since then, there has been plenty of excitement following the talk, with noted nerds from Bill Nye to Neil deGrasse Tyson expressing enthusiasm for the endeavor.
Even NASA offered support, saying in a statement, “This journey will require the best and the brightest minds from government and industry, and the fact that Mars is a major topic of discussion is very encouraging.”
But there’s been a notable lack of skepticism for a plan that still relies on such wild speculation. For instance, how would humans survive the massive amount of radiation they would be exposed to on the journey to Mars? How will the spaceship return back to Earth? (An important question, since the first explorers might have a reason not to stay.) And importantly, who is going to fund the endeavor?