(Independent) – The first human colony on Mars will be built using “glass domes”, according to SpaceX CEO Elon Musk.
The billionaire entrepreneur, who this week became the third richest person in the world, has frequently spoken of his ambition to travel to Mars in his lifetime and turn humanity into a multi-planetary species.
Early settlers will live in temporary habitats before a more radical solution is sought to make the planet more accessible, he tweeted on Thursday.
Mr Musk also said he hoped to populate Mars with a million people by 2050.
In order to make the planet more habitable, Mr Musk is a proponent of a process known as terraforming. This involves blasting the planet with nuclear weapons at its poles to cause the ice caps to melt and induce accelerated warming to make it comfortable for humans to live there.
“Life in glass domes at first. Eventually, terraformed to support life, like Earth,” he tweeted.
“Terraforming will be too slow to be relevant in our lifetime. However, we can establish a human base their in our lifetime. At least a future spacefaring civilization – discovering our ruins – will be impressed humans got that far.”
Mr Musk first proposed terraforming as a viable way to speed up the habitability of Mars in 2014, when he described it as a “fixer upper of a planet” in an interview with US TV host Stephen Colbert.
“Eventually you can transform Mars into an Earth-like planet,” he said. “There’s a fast way and a slow way. The fast way is to drop thermonucular weapons over the poles.”
He elaborated on what the slow way might be several years later, when he suggested a system of giant mirrors could be placed in orbit around Mars in order to reflect sunlight onto the surface.
His hope of transforming Mars were dealt a blow last year when a study published in Nature Astronomy claimed that “terraforming Mars is not possible using present-day technology”.
Yet he appears undeterred, with his Twitter profile currently displaying a banner image of the terraforming process. SpaceX also features a T-shirt with the slogan ‘Nuke Mars’ in its online store.
SpaceX has also prioritised the development of its Mars-bound Starship spacecraft, which is being built to ferry up to 100 people around the Solar System.
Earlier this year, Mr Musk said Starship was the firm’s “top priority”, writing in a company-wide email that progress needed to speed up “dramatically and immediately” in order to meet the ambitious target of sending the first humans to Mars before 2030.