Why Neil deGrasse Tyson Thinks We'll Never Go To Mars

Astronomer and author Neil deGrasse Tyson is on the record as saying humans will probably never go to Mars, but then again, he has also speculated about how and why we'll most likely get there one day. That may seem a bit confusing and even confounding from an expert known as a famous science communicator, but it's not really. Yes, Tyson has said in the past that he doesn't believe we'll travel to the Red Planet, but he has also explained under what conditions he thinks we will get there (via SYFY Wire). SpaceX and NASA both have daring and bold plans to fly humans to Mars over the next decade. Tyson has said those plans may be irresponsible, reckless, and maybe even impossible (via Futurism).

"I don't think we'll ever get there," the astrophysicist said in an interview with SYFY Wire at Comic Con 2016 (posted on YouTube). "All the reasons people are giving for going, I don't see them working over the long term." In another interview a year later, Tyson said Mars is just too inhospitable for life as we know it (via Futurism). People won't really want to live there, he said. You don't see humans living on the North or South Poles on Earth, which are less extreme than conditions on Mars. "We'd rather stay where it is warm and comfortable," he said. But probably more than that, the astrophysicist believes first and foremost, it's about the money.

Travel to Mars is about the money

Take SpaceX, for example. It's a corporation and as such, it's beholden to its shareholders and its bottom line. What would the return on investment be? "None, really," Tyson noted in the SYFY interview. Maybe SpaceX will make the spaceship that NASA will buy for human travel to Mars, Tyson theorized, but he believes it may even be impossible for private enterprise to go because of the expense, the novelty, and extreme danger (via SYFY Wire). "Unless we find oil or diamonds on Mars, I don't see it happening soon, possibly ever."

But the astrophysicist has also explained under what conditions he believes humans will eventually travel to Mars. Mainly it's about achieving the goal as a nation with everyone becoming a participant on the "frontier of exploration," he told SYFY. If that happens, humans will get to Mars and beyond, according to Tyson. But ultimately he believes it comes down to the money. The space program of the 1950s and 1960s that put the first man on the moon "turned a sleepy country into an innovation nation," he said (via SYFY Wire). "That's the power of space exploration and if you do that, you will drive the health of your economy for centuries to come." Tyson says he'd like to see humans go to Mars just for the fun of it, but believes ultimately it's a "money proposition." If we "go to Mars for the future stability of the nation's and the world's economy, investors (will) come running."