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How space experts like Elon Musk convinced Ron Howard that humans should go to Mars

When award-winning director Ron Howard began working on the television series “MARS,” he “wasn’t so convinced” that colonizing the red planet would be a reality.

The show “MARS” features a fictional mission to colonize the planet in 2033 and it’s combined with documentary-style interviews with space experts including Elon Musk, Bill Nye, Stephen Patranek, and other big thinkers.

“I think there’s a very, very good chance we’re going to Mars. And human beings going to Mars, not just sending robots,” Howard told Yahoo Finance in an interview ahead of the season 2 premiere on Monday at 9 p.m. ET on National Geographic (FOXA).

During the interview process for the show, Howard began to witness “really serious people” who were betting their resources, their time, and their careers on going to Mars.

“Very convinced”

“The reasons were compelling. You could see that sort of excitement and gleam in their eye, and it wasn’t just a few people. It was a lot of very impressive people, and through working on the show, I now am very convinced that it’s something we should do.”

For the show, Howard got to spend time with Elon Musk, the CEO of Tesla (TSLA) and SpaceX. He found him to be “extremely thoughtful” and “very careful of his time.” He also noticed that Musk “really had been living at the office.”

“I had met Elon over the years a few times and was interested in electric cars eight or nine years ago for a project, and toured then. I understood him to be a very thoughtful guy,” Howard said. “Brian Grazer has spent time with him as well, and so when we got to sort of talking about Mars specifically, I was surprised at how careful he was about kind of guarding his time, and also the range of thought and the sort of historical perspective. In other words, he really thinks about these innovations as they relate to society and history … both past, present and potential future.”

Award-winning director Ron Howard speaks about season 2 of “MARS” airing on National Geographic.

Over the years, Howard has met a lot of brilliant engineers and Musk thinks and speaks like one.

“His imagination takes him further than that, and also his interest in the human experience runs a little deeper than it does with a lot of engineers who I’ve met with and interviewed.”

Musk has made a case that the survival of the human race will require the colonization of Mars. This is something that Howard sensed during his interactions with Musk.

“One thing he says about going to Mars is he says, ‘We can just about do it. We can’t quite yet, but we can just about do it. But that’s the time that we should be reaching, and I’m willing to commit myself. I want to wake up in the morning knowing we’re trying because it’s foolish to think that technology never reverses itself. Society, throughout history, has gained knowledge and then lost that knowledge. This is the moment where we can go, so we should be going.'”

“MARS” is produced by Imagine Entertainment and RadicalMedia.


Julia La Roche is a finance reporter at Yahoo Finance. Follow her on Twitter. Send tips to laroche@oath.com.