How Much Money Would It Cost To Travel To Mars?

If you're a budget-minded traveler, you probably map out your estimated expenses every time you travel. Gas, lodging, food, entrance fees — all of those things add up pretty quickly, and if you're not keeping track, your credit card bill might be pretty shocking. 

Now imagine you're actually going to be traveling through space. There isn't a credit card in this or any other world with that kind of limit. But just how much would it actually cost to go to Mars? To answer that question, you'd have to ask self-professed Mars-guy, one of the only people in the world who really seems to be taking the question seriously: Elon Musk.

According to the International Business Times, in 2016 Musk told a crowd at the International Astronautical Congress that early SpaceX estimates place the cost-per-passenger at around $10 billion. Hopefully, that includes free cocktails and HBO. Musk is an optimist, though, and he seems to also think that eventually, that number will come way, way down to roughly the cost of an average American home, or $200,000. Still not super-affordable, but hey, presumably you wouldn't be going back to Earth again ever, so who needs a house, right?

If NASA took people to Mars, it would be similarly expensive. According to Space News, the estimated cost of the first Mars mission would be roughly $120.6 billion. That's assuming that the "rough estimate" is anywhere near what it will actually cost to get there — NASA and its contractors don't exactly have a reputation for doing things on or under budget.

Musk says that lower costs could be achieved by reusing spacecraft, which makes sense — but during the same speech, he also said that SpaceX would be launching its first manned mission in 2018 (we're still waiting), so it's not like the dude is especially good at guesstimating. So anyway, the answer to our initial question is this: a buttload. It will cost a buttload of money to go to Mars.