Mars, as seen in 2003. (NASA/JPL/Malin Space Science Systems)

Mars, as seen in 2003. (NASA/JPL/Malin Space Science Systems)

Web Monkey: Musk isn’t the only one who wants to go to Mars

Anybody want to buy a ticket to Mars?

Start saving those pennies. Elon Musk says he can get you there for the low, low price of $200,000 in a mere decade or two.

Musk, who made $12 billion on ventures such as PayPal, Tesla and SpaceX, recently announced plans to colonize the Red Planet. He envisions up to a million people there later this century.

Anyone who’s seen or read “The Martian” knows that conditions are harsh on Mars, even if you’re a botanist who can turn poop into potatoes. It’s freezing cold and there’s no breathable air. Other obstacles include the massive startup costs of a Martian shuttle program and the unknown health effects of long spaceflights.

Musk doesn’t have all of that figured out, but he thinks it’s essential for humanity to have a backup plan in case this whole Earth thing doesn’t work out. He’s a billionaire and he seems to be in a hurry to leave. It’s a tad suspicious.

In our latest poll at HeraldNet.com, we asked whether you’d want to go on the adventure, and 27 percent said yes. Extrapolate that to the U.S. population and you’d have tens of millions willing to take a trip to Mars, where Musk has said the first travelers will need to be “prepared to die.” It might hurt ticket sales if they put that in the travel brochure, but there still will be plenty of takers.

Twenty-six percent said it’s a moot question because he’s out of his mind. Musk has proven the naysayers wrong before, so he shouldn’t be underestimated. After all, this year he got 400,000 people to put money down on cars that don’t exist yet.

And 47 percent said they’re not interested. They probably have kids, mortgages, fantasy football leagues — some reason to stick around.

But if you’ve followed the news lately, you might be glad someone’s working on an escape plan.

— Doug Parry, parryracer@gmail.com; @parryracer

On to something more terrestrial. In case you hadn’t heard, there’s an election coming up and, well, there’s more on it than just the top office of the free world that’s at stake. What about swapping sales tax for carbon tax?

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