SpaceX founder Elon Musk has revealed that the aerospace company has extraordinary plans to send its first craft to Mars by 2022, with humans heading to the Red Planet just a few years later.
Musk expounded on his company’s Mars plans during a wide-ranging interview while collecting the Axel Springer Award 2020 on Tuesday. The multi-billionaire explained that journeys to Mars are dependent on the planet’s orbit lining up with Earth’s, something that takes place roughly every two years.
The most recent alignment occurred earlier this year so the next synchronisations will take place in 2022, 2024 and 2026.
“I’d say six years from now, highly confident [that humans will travel to Mars]. If we get lucky, maybe four years, and then we’re going to try and send an uncrewed vehicle there in two years,” Musk said.
The eccentric business magnate also revealed that he plans to travel on SpaceX’s Starship spacecraft in the next two to three years. However, he downplayed his own spaceflight goals, saying that his primary focus is to ensure the technology is in place to enable “a lot of people to go to Mars and make life interplanetary, and to have a base on the moon.”
Starship is facing its first major test flight this week, a process which will see it launched 15 kilometers into the sky before landing again.
The craft is being built to transport up to 100 people around the Solar System. SpaceX plans for mass production of the next-generation spacecraft to begin at some point next year.
Musk’s comments are noticeably more upbeat than remarks he made earlier this year, when he said that there’s a good chance that the first human settlers on Mars will die during the mission.
“I want to emphasise that this is a very hard and dangerous, difficult thing, not for the faint of heart… [There’s a] good chance you’ll die. It’s going to be tough-going, but it’ll be pretty glorious if it works out,” he said.
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