Elon Musk warns mankind must land on Mars before World War Three
Mankind may only have a brief window to set foot on Mars before a disaster such as a third World War makes it no longer possible, Elon Musk has warned.
The founder of SpaceX, which was the first private company to resupply the International Space Station, fears such a war could set back technological advancements.
His company is preparing to announce its ambitious plans for rocket and spacecraft technology to carry humans to the red planet.
Elon Musk (pictured) believes there is a limited window for humans to launch manned missions to Mars before a world war or religious extremism causes a move away from technology. His company SpaceX is developing new spacecraft and landing technology for use in a manned mission to the red planet
Musk believes it may be possible to send the first humans to Mars within the next 10 to 15 years.
Speaking in an interview with GQ, he said such a mission may be important to help ensure the long term survival of mankind.
In particular, he believes a Martian colony could help to ensure humanity survives if there is ever a calamity on Earth that destroys life here.
'You back up your hard drive.... Maybe we should back up life, too?' he said.
However, Musk, 44, who co-founded PayPal, insisted it was important for mankind to seize the opportunity to visit Mars while there is currently the technology and the impetus.
He warned there may only be a brief amount of time to accomplish this mission before something like a war or religious extremism causes a move against technology.
Musk said: ''I think we need to acknowledge that there's certainly a possibility of a third World War, and if that does occur it could be far worse than anything that's happened before.
'Let's say nuclear weapons are used. I mean, there could be a very powerful social movement that's anti-technology.
'There's also growth in religious extremism. Like, I mean, does ISIS grow…?'
SpaceX is currently one of two private companies providing cargo resupply missions to the International Space Station.
His company has also been developing reusable rockets that can land on barges at sea, but in June suffered a setback when its Falcon 9 rocket broke apart shortly after liftoff.
It has also been developing a version of its Dragon cargo spacecraft that will be capable of carrying crew.
But Musk said he was preparing to announce detailed plans of a mission to colonise Mars early next year, known as the Mars Colonisation Transport programme.
Musk hopes humans will be landing on Mars within the next 10 to 15 years and his company SpaceX is developing new spacecraft, including its Dragon capsule (pictured) to help carry them to the planet
He said: 'I think it's gonna seem pretty crazy, no matter what. It's really big. There's not been any architecture like this described that I'm aware of.'
Earlier this year Nasa employees revealed a 'budget' plan to send a SpaceX capsule to the red planet in 2020 to return samples left by the next Mars rover.
Musk also recently discussed an idea to make Mars more habitable by using 'nuclear pulses' in the upper atmosphere to heat the planet.