In a book published in 1952, Wernher von Braun, a former engineer under the Nazi regime and considered one of the main architects of the American space conquest, had imagined the presence of an “Elon” reigning over the human colonies on Mars. In a funny way, we can’t help but turn to the boss of SpaceX, who takes the reference with humor.
Wernher von Braun, a German engineer, first distinguished himself during World War II. Under the Nazi regime, he was indeed one of the main engineers allowing the flight of German V2 rockets, the first ballistic missiles in history. He was then recruited by the United States after the German surrender with more than eighty other scientists to put their know-how at the service of the country during the Cold War. Von Braun notably played a major role in the development of the Saturn V which allowed the Americans to conquer the moon.
During his career, the naturalized American engineer has also thought a lot about space travel, and its implications. Which brings us back to a book: The Mars project, published in 1952.
In this book, Von Braun describes his vision of colonizing the red planet. He optimistically believed that a first expedition mission could take place as early as 1965 and that the best way to achieve this would be to launch a crew of seventy people aboard a directly assembled craft into low earth orbit. However, this is not the part that interests us today.
Elon, Emperor of Mars
In the second half of the book, which gets more lost in the realm of science fiction, Von Braun in fact evokes the reign of an “Elon”. This term does not refer here to someone’s name, but to a “monarchical title” title, such as Emperor.
However, we can’t help but see it as a nod to the boss of SpaceX, whose main goal is to establish a colony on Mars. Not without humor, Elon Musk sees a destiny in it.
Speaking of fate, did you know that Von Braun’s 1953 book “Mars Project” referred to a person named Elon who would bring humans to Mars? Pretty nuts pic.twitter.com/m28yFU4Ip6
– Toby Li (@tobyliiiiiiiiii) December 30, 2020
In this vision, the Martian government was led by ten men, including a leader (the famous Elon) elected by universal suffrage for five years. Two chambers of Parliament are responsible for promulgating the laws which will then be administered by Elon and his cabinet. In this configuration, the Upper House is limited to sixty members, each appointed for life by their Elon.
On paper, this structure echoes in particular the famous College of Cardinals of the Catholic Church. The “Elon” referenced in this 1952 book is therefore a bit like a “space pope”.