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The Guardian - UK
The Guardian - UK
Arwa Mahdawi

Looking for your next adventure? Why not move to Venus?

A computer-generated image of Venus.
A computer-generated image of Venus. Photograph: Baac3nes/Getty Images

Guillermo Söhnlein is a man of many ideas. One of those ideas was OceanGate: the company that used to send people to the bottom of the sea in submersibles until one of those submersibles imploded, killing all five people on board, including Söhnlein’s co-founder. It’s 10 years since Söhnlein left the company, but after a tragedy like that you’d think he’d want to stay away from risky ventures for a while. But no, the businessman recently told Insider that he is intent on colonising Venus. This isn’t some lofty vision of the far future: he wants to send 1,000 people to Venus’s atmosphere by 2050. He lays out all his plans in an extremely unimpressive website for his foundation called Humans2Venus.

While all this may sound completely ridiculous, don’t worry: Söhnlein has looked into the logistics and concluded that getting to Venus is “very doable”. “I think it is less aspirational than putting 1 million people on the Martian surface by 2050,” he mused. You should trust him on this – he’s been researching the matter for a very long time. “I think I’ve been driven to help make humanity a multiplanet species since I was 11 years old,” he told Insider. “I had this recurring dream of being the commander of the first Martian colony.” I’ve had a recurring dream that I forgot to do any of my maths homework for a year and then I had to sit a test, but I haven’t spun that into a business venture.

Söhnlein isn’t the only person to think that suspending blimps in Venus’s atmosphere might be easier than colonising Mars. Still, even if he can find a way to colonise Venus by 2050, is he really going to persuade 1,000 people to go and live up there? He seems optimistic. “People compare it to a month-long caravan trip. Some people can do it, some people can’t,” he said. So there you go: colonising Venus, just like a caravan holiday!

  • Arwa Mahdawi is a Guardian columnist

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