Bases on the moon and Mars could help preserve human civilisation and hasten its regeneration on earth in the event of a third world war, billionaire entrepreneur Elon Musk said on Sunday.
Mr Musk, the founder of rocket and spacecraft company SpaceX, said the company’s interplanetary ship could begin test flights as soon as next year.
There is “some probability” that there will be another Dark Ages, “particularly if there is a third world war”, Mr Musk said at the South by Southwest (SXSW) conference.
“We want to make sure that there’s enough of a seed of human civilisation somewhere else to bring civilisation back, and perhaps shorten the length of the Dark Ages,” he said.
“I think a moon base and a Mars base that could perhaps help regenerate life back here on earth would be really important.”
Mr Musk, 46, told the SXSW event that SpaceX is “making good progress on the ship and the booster”.
“I think we will be able to do short flights, short up-and-down flights, probably in the first half of next year. This is a very big booster and ship.”
Mr Musk, who has long dreamed of creating a human colony on Mars, revealed in 2017 that he was building the new rocket ship with the code name BFR that would be capable of travelling anywhere on Earth in under an hour. The spacecraft would ultimately be able to make missions to the Moon or Mars, Musk said.
Mr Musk conceded that his forecasts on project completion times are sometimes a bit rosy: “People have told me that my timelines historically have been optimistic.”
He also spoke at length about his role as an entrepreneur with SpaceX and electric car maker Tesla, his concerns about advancements in artificial intelligence – “It scares the hell out of me” – and the need to put a price on carbon emissions in order to develop a sustainable energy system.
He said that revenue from a project to launch satellites that would bring broadband internet access to the world, dubbed Starlink, would help fund the building of interplanetary spaceships.
SpaceX launched the world’s most powerful rocket, the Falcon Heavy, last month, sending Mr Musk’s red Tesla Roadster car toward an orbit near Mars.