SpaceX CEO Elon Musk has said any future economy on Mars could be cryptocurrency based.
The tech billionaire, who is one of the co-founders of online payments giant PayPal, hopes to send the first humans to Mars as early 2024, with the ultimate aim of setting up a â€œself-sustaining city on Mars as soon as possible”.
Responding to a Twitter thread started by AI researcher Lex Fridman, Mr Musk agreed a â€œMars economy will run on cryptoâ€, suggesting it could be with the novelty cryptocurrency dogecoin or the fringe cryptocurrency Marscoin.
The Marscoin project was founded in 2014 and saw a brief surge in popularity during the cryptocurrency market bull run in late 2017 but has since drifted into obscurity. The altcoin currently has a market cap of less than $100,000, according to CoinMarketCap.
Dogecoin could be a more likely candidate, given it continues to be relatively popular and shares many of the same decentralised attributes as bitcoin.
â€” Elon Musk (@elonmusk) December 24, 2020
Last week, the price of dogecoin surged by more than a third after Mr Musk changed his Twitter bio to â€œFormer CEO of Dogecoinâ€ and tweeted: â€œOne word: Doge.â€
The SpaceX founder has frequently spoken of his ambition to travel to Mars in his lifetime and earlier this year ordered employees to accelerate the development of the next-generation Starship rocket.
A 12.5km flight test of a Starship prototype took place earlier this month, with plans to build a 1,000-strong fleet of the spacecraft â€“ each one capable of carrying up to 100 people.
SpaceX provoked controversy in October after stating that it would not recognise international law on Mars, instead adhering to a set of â€œself-governing principlesâ€.
According to the Terms of Service of SpaceXâ€™s Starlink internet project, any future settlements on the Red Planet would â€œrecognise Mars as a free planetâ€, adding that â€œno Earth-based government has authority or sovereignty over Martian activities.â€
The terms stated: â€œDisputes will be settled through self-governing principles, established in good faith, at the time of Martian settlement.â€
It is not yet clear what these principles might be, though Mr Musk has previously hinted that his preference for a Martian government would be one based on direct democracy.Â
â€œIt would be people voting directly on issues,â€ he said in a 2016 interview. â€œThe potential for corruption is substantially diminished in a direct versus a representative democracy.â€
SpaceX did not respond to a request for comment from The Independent but lawyers have noted that any Mars constitution would still be subject to the 1957 Outer Space Treaty, which states that â€œouter space, including the Moon and other celestial bodies, is not subject to national appropriation by claim of sovereignty, by means of use or occupation, or by any other means.â€
Randy Segal, from the law firm Hogan Lovells, recently told The Independent: â€œThe whole of space law contemplates that those of us on this planet share the rights and responsibility to make space something we can all share together.”