Space X has accelerated its push towards Mars colonisation, with Elon Musk revealing that the super rocket currently in construction could be ready to launch early in 2019.
Musk revealed the ambitious plan to launch a rocket to Mars in early 2019 while taking part in an impromptu Q&A at a South by Southwest conference in Texas on Sunday.
The founder and CEO of Space X told the crowd that in the first half of next year, the private venture would be capable of sending its Big Falcon Rocket (BFR) space ship to the red planet in “short up and down trips”.
“We are building the first ship, the first Mars or interplanetary ship, right now,” Musk told screenwriter Jonathan Nolan on stage.
“I think we’ll be able to do short flights, short up and down flights, sometime in the first half of next year.”
According to the visionary’s timeline, the next steps would be a cargo mission to Mars in 2022, then a manned mission in 2024, before he would press on towards eventual colonisation.
Of course, Musk can’t do it all on his own, and he hopes successful first flights next year, will inspire others to follow his lead.
“The biggest thing that would be helpful is just general support and encouragement and goodwill,” the billionaire said.
“I think once we build it we’ll have a point of proof something that other companies and countries can go and do.
“They certainly don’t think it’s possible, but if we do they’ll up their game.”
He reiterated that SpaceX’s role was to simply create the pathway to Mars, and said he hopes other entrepreneurs will deliver much of the infrastructure needed for the future colony’s survival.
After the infrastructure is complete, “then really the explosion of entrepreneurial opportunity [will begin], because Mars will need everything from iron foundries to pizza joints,” he said.
Mars will need everything from iron foundries to pizza joints.
He admitted previous timelines have proven optimistic, most notably with Falcon Heavy, the most powerful rocket in operation, which finally launched last month after it was first scheduled to do so in early 2013.
“Sometimes, my timelines are a little, you know…” he said to laughter.
And considering the BFR has been designed to be several times larger than Falcon Heavy and far more complex, there is reason to be sceptical.