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Elon Musk on Colbert's 'Late Show': Mars Is a Real Fixer-Upper of a Planet

Musk became Stephen Colbert's fourth-ever guest.

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Sep 10 2015, 4:42am

Image: CBS

SpaceX and Tesla CEO Elon Musk became Stephen Colbert's fourth-ever guest on The Late Show Wednesday and, yes, they talked quite a bit about colonizing Mars.

"[Mars] is very inhospitable, that's true," Musk told Colbert. "It's a fixer-upper of a planet. First you have to live in transparent domes, but eventually you can transform it into an Earthlike planet."

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For close followers of SpaceX, Musk's plan to terraform Mars is old news. Musk didn't let any new grand plans slip, and the company's June crash wasn't mentioned at all.

Overall, it was a pretty basic interview that seemed like a coming out party for Musk and his ideas—Colbert's Late Show debut Tuesday drew 6.6 million viewers, doubtlessly many of them aren't intimately familiar with the ultimate goals of SpaceX or Tesla. Viewership for Wednesday's show likely fell, but it's safe to assume it was a good platform for Musk to present his ideas.

The two quickly glossed over a new Tesla product, the "Power Arm," which is a robotic charging station that can automatically find a Tesla's charge port, and then moved on to SpaceX and the importance of reusable rockets.

Asked how he proposed to terraform the red planet, Musk said "there's the fast way and the slow way. The fast way is to drop thermonuclear weapons over the poles. The slow way would be to release greenhouse gases like we do on Earth."

It's safe to assume that if we do eventually try to terraform Mars, we'll probably go with the latter, and Musk has floated some wackier ideas about getting microbes to live on the planet. In a biography of Musk published earlier this year, author Ashlee Vance details a plan to print life on Mars using "biological teleportation," which would require sending genetic code to Mars from Earth, then using a 3D bioprinter to print it on Mars.

It's not something we're going to see anytime soon, but, hey, if we're going to fix up Mars, at least someone's thinking about how to do it. Next up on Colbert's show is Uber CEO Travis Kalanick.

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