Although the initial human footprint on the planet Mars would wait until
the 2030's, our story begins a few decades earlier. After the turn of the 21st
Century, there was a young dreamer named Elon Musk. Emigrating from his native South Africa,
this ambitious lad made his fortune early in life by writing computer software and selling
the companies he founded for massive amounts of money. Yet, despite his precocious success
and fame, his passion—his burning desire, really—was always the exploration of
space, and in particular, the mysterious and foreboding Red Planet.
He dreamed of flying through space to that distant and austere world, witnessing its pock-marked surface, and the gargantuan volcano, Mons Olympus, named for the legendary abode of the fabled Greek gods. Yes, he visualized traveling there in a rocket ship like some hero from an Isaac Asimov novel he treasured. He even said once that he wanted to die there—but just not upon impact. But how could this, his boyhood fantasy, be realized during his adult life?
Then it struck him like the proverbial bolt from the blue. He knew what he would do—what he must do: he would start his own rocket company. He would use his windfall of capital to fund the project himself. It would be he, not some bureaucratic government, who would accomplish this extraordinary feat. He would call his company SpaceX, and come what may (and many setbacks there would be), he would never give up, he would never quit. He would persevere until that magnificent new day dawned when the human race became a multi-planetary species.
Naysayers and educators alike said it could not be done. It was reckless; it was impossible; it was but a pipe dream. But as we now sit comfortably in sprawling Elon City on that rusty fourth planet, we must never forget those who made all of this possible, visionary pioneers like Elon Musk, who against all odds, possessed a dream and would never let it go unrequited.
The Bonneville Crater was visited by the Spirit rover in 2004.
Burn's Cliff is on the inside of Endurance Crater on Mars.