Despite the fact SpaceX has yet to complete a total of ten missions into space, or even one to the Moon, CEO Elon Musk has some very big ideas about our interplanetary future, and recently outlined them in an interview with the BBC.
SpaceX is probably best known for the Dragon spacecraft, which is set to make its maiden voyage to the International Space Station soon, but even this mammoth task looks simple next to Musk’s future endeavors. First discussed last year, Mr. Musk has now expanded on his plan to send astronauts to Mars, including the amount of money he hopes to charge for a round-trip.
His jaw-dropping vision requires considerable scientific advancement before becoming reality though, as it needs a completely reusable rocket that would be refueled on Mars before heading back to Earth, but once the technology became established, Musk firmly believes a ticket could cost as “little” as $500,000.
To put that figure into context, Virgin Galactic’s tickets cost $200,000 each, and only gets you as far as the edge of our atmosphere.
Musk doesn’t only see the trip as being one for sight-seeing either, but as a chance for Earth-bound folk to sell-up everything they own and move to Mars. Of course, there are a few stumbling blocks at the moment — a shortage of housing, difficult climate and no Starbucks — but then he isn’t expecting this to happen tomorrow.
He estimates the $500,000 ticket cost would come some ten years after the project first starts, which according to NASA is still at least 20 or 30 years away. However, in the interview, the supremely confident Musk said SpaceX could be ready to go in just 15 years time.
Mars is quite far though, so expect at least six or seven months in space using current propulsion methods before arriving, then the same again for your return journey.
The complete plan for how SpaceX expects to achieve its Mars mission is going to be revealed either later this year or early next, and even though it all sounds incredibly optimistic — and perhaps even faintly ridiculous — there’s something about Elon Musk’s demeanor that makes you think that yes, he really will take us to Mars, and that it won’t be long until he does.