If you want to go to Mars, timing is everything, and Elon Musk no longer believes that SpaceX will come to the red planet when the next window of opportunity opens in 2022.
The world’s leading fan of leaving this world had, followed by a crew trip a few years later. During an interview at the Mars Society virtual conference on Friday, Musk said he now believes his next-generation Starship spacecraft could be ready as soon as 2023, in time for a launch window in 2024.
Earth and Mars orbiting the sun bring the two planets closest to each other approximately every two years. That̵
“I think we have a chance to fight,” Musk said of making the 2024 transport window.
To get there, though, Musk says his team will have to pick up its pace of innovation, and he’s not afraid to break a few things along the way.
“We’re probably losing a couple of ships,” he said when asked about the development process for Starship, which was eventually designed to take dozens of people at a time to Mars.
So far, early Starship prototypes have made “hops” at low altitude from the SpaceX test facility in Texas. Musk hopes the early models make it orbit for the first time next year. He added that the company could demonstrate refueling capacity in orbit in 2022 and start taking trips to the moon shortly thereafter.
The company’s founder and chief engineer warned that he has no secret dates to reach those milestones.
“This is just guesswork,” Musk Mars Society president Robert Zubrin told Zoom.
As for who should go to Mars, Musk said that when there are a million people who both want to go to the red planet and can afford it, that should be enough to sustain a city. So in other words, it looks like the first Martians are likely to be wealthy earthlings.
Once on Mars, Musk said, the first set of rules will be to set up a fuel plant. He also mentioned the idea of sending robotic droids to the surface that humans could control remotely from Earth.
Of course, Musk also has designs on more than Mars. He mentioned the idea of using Starship or other craft to visitlarge asteroids, Jupiters and even the Kuiper Belt moons and the longest length of the sun.
“We have to take the leap to go to another planet first,” he said.