Elon Musk, the tech billionaire and once richest person in the world, has promised to bring humans to Mars by 2024. But was his mission predicted nearly 70 years ago in a fiction book?
Musk has cryptically tweeted in the past:
that for me”
To which a fan replied: “Speaking about destiny, did you know that [Wernher] Von Braun’s 1953 book ‘Mars Project,’ referenced a person named Elon that would bring humans to Mars? Pretty nuts.”
Speaking about destiny, did you know that Von Braun's 1953 book "Mars Project," referenced a person named Elon that would bring humans to Mars? Pretty nuts pic.twitter.com/m28yFU4Ip6
— Toby Li (@tobyliiiiiiiiii) December 30, 2020
Book predicts space travel to Mars for Elon Musk
The book is called “Mars Project: A Technical Tale,” by Wernher von Braun, a rocket scientist and engineer. Von Braun started out as a Nazi rocket scientist. He worked in Nazi Germany’s rocket development program during the beginning of his career. After the end of World War II, the United States recruited Von Braun and roughly 1,600 other German engineers and scientists to work for a classified intelligence program known as Operation Paperclip.
After moving to the U.S., Von Braun also became part of an effort to produce content in various media, including books, televised guest appearances, and toys, in order to create stories that explained complex scientific ideas to laymen. His book Mars Project was meant to describe a Mars mission.
However, Toby Li was only slightly off: Von Braun’s book says that the highest leader on Mars will be known as the “Elon,” not that his name will be Elon. Another user, Pranay Pathole, explained the difference using an English translation of the book as follows:
“Yeah it’s real. This is the English transcript of the same book…But ‘Elon’ referred by Von Braun in the book isn’t the name of the person but rather the name of the position something like an elected meritocratic president.”
Yeah it's real. This is the English transcript of the same book … But "Elon" referred by Von Braun in the book isn't the name of the person but rather the name of the position something like an elected meritocratic president pic.twitter.com/GADiMJHxLp
— Pranay Pathole (@PPathole) December 30, 2020
Elon Musk sets sight on Mars mission
Elon Musk said last month that his company SpaceX plans to send humans to Mars within the next ten years. Musk was interviewed on an episode of the Lex Fridman Podcast, where he spoke at length about his company’s goals for reaching the Red Planet.
Fridman asked Musk what he thought a likely timeline was for the project, to which the world’s richest man replied: “Best case is about five years, worst case 10 years.”
Musk said that success hinges on “engineering the vehicle.” He also noted that “Starship is the most complex and advanced rocket that’s ever been made.” Starship is the latest model of rocket manufactured by SpaceX.
“The fundamental optimization of Starship is minimizing the cost per ton to orbit—and ultimately cost per ton to orbit and ultimately cost per ton to the surface of Mars,” Musk explained on the podcast.
Musk made it clear that the mission stands apart from everything humans have accomplished in space before. “No amount of money can get you a ticket to Mars,” he said.
Elon Musk loses fortune in 2022
Besides being at one point the richest person on Earth, Elon Musk now holds the record for the largest loss of personal fortune in recorded history. Musk, who had his majority of wealth in Tesla shares has suffered a loss of around $182 billion (£153 billion; €173 billion) since November 2021 according to Forbes, although, other sources note the loss may really be closer to $200 billion.
After the market closed for the year on December 30, 2022, Musk tweeted: “Long-term fundamentals are extremely strong. Short-term market madness is unpredictable.”