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'Bunch of people' will die on 'glorious' mission to Mars, Elon Musk predicts (9News)

Space-X founder Elon Musk has predicted "a bunch of people will probably die" as humans try to land on Mars.

Mr Musk called the space mission to take humans to Mars an "arduous and dangerous journey" but also said it would "a glorious adventure".

"A bunch of people will probably die in the beginning," Mr Musk said, while announcing a contest for carbon removal being funded by his foundation.

Getting people on Mars will be dangerous, Mr Musk said, but ultimately necessary in order to ensure the survival of humanity.

Mr Musk is putting up $128 million for a new XPrize competition aimed at spurring the creation of new carbon removal technologies and helping to ease the climate crisis.

The prize will be the largest cash incentive in history, according to XPrize, an organisation which hosts competitions focused on spurring innovation in a variety of business sectors.

The competition will run for four years, and it asks contestants to propose, test and demonstrate technologies that could be used to extract carbon dioxide directly from the Earth's atmosphere or oceans.

About $19 million will be distributed across the teams that choose to participate in the competition as "seed money" to help get their development programs off the ground.

Another $6 million will be reserved specifically for student teams.

A grand prize of $64 million will go to whichever team can prove its technology can extract at least 1000 metric tons, or about two million pounds, of carbon dioxide per year with the potential to scale up to extracting millions of metric tons of CO2 later down the road.

Mr Musk — who has a net worth of nearly $243 billion — has long been heralded for the contribution his electric car company, Tesla, has made to the clean-energy movement.

But he's also faced criticism for his vocal support for cryptocurrencies, which rely on a heavily-polluting digital mining process.

Tesla also recently made a $1.9 billion investment in bitcoin, which, according to one calculation, is equivalent to the annual emissions of 1.8 million cars or about 8 million metric tons of CO2.

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