Elon Musk founded SpaceX in 2002, and is now predicting the company will send humans to Mars before it reaches its’ 30-year mark. Musk made the prediction on Tuesday while appearing on the Lex Fridman podcast.
The billionaire has expressed his belief that mankind should be a “multi-planet species,” and is certainly using his financial resources to try and help make that a real possibility. SpaceX is currently working on engineering a rocket that can safely make the trip. Musk says of the technology, “Starship is the most complex and advanced rocket that’s ever been made by, I don’t know, an order of magnitude or something like that. It’s a lot. It’s really next level.”
However, he says he’s confident that SpaceX can get humans onto Mars before the decade is up. “Best case is about five years. Worst case, 10 years,” he says of the trip. The company in recent years has made big move towards Musks’ long-term goal of establishing a Mars colony. Just a few weeks ago, the company began building a Florida launchpad that will be able to accommodate Starship rockets.
Elon Musk Says Flying to Mars Right Now Is Too Expensive
Additionally, SpaceX has begun the process of testing prototypes of the rocket ahead of the planned launch in 2024. According to Musk, his private aviation company is working to find ways to cut down on the cost of the trip, as well as optimize the rocket’s design.
“There is a certain cost per ton to the surface of Mars where we can accord to establish a self-sustaining city and then above that, we cannot afford to do it,” Musk explains. He continues, “Right now, you couldn’t fly to Mars for $1 trillion. No amount of money could get you to Mars. We need to get that to, like, something that is actually possible at all.”
SpaceX hasn’t always been the successful firm that it is today. In a 2017 presentation for the company, Elon Musk shared that the project truly had a rough start. “We [SpaceX] started off with just a few people who really didn’t know how to make rockets. And the reason that I ended up being the chief engineer or chief designer, was not because I want to, it’s because I couldn’t hire anyone. Nobody good would join. So I ended up being that by default. And I messed up the first three launches,” said Musk.
In the same presentation, the billionaire explained that SpaceX hope that they could complete their initial mars mission in 2024. “In 2024 we want to try to fly four ships [to Mars]. Two cargo and two crew,” Musk explained.
He continues, “The goal of these initial missions is to find the best source of water, that’s for the first mission, and then the second mission, the goal is to build the propellant plant. So we should, particular with six ships there, have plenty of landed mass to construct the propellant depot, which will consist of a large array of solar panels, a very large array, and then everything necessary to mine and refine water, and then draw the CO2 out of the atmosphere, and then create and store deep-cryo CH4 and O2.”