Elon Musk hopes to send humans to Mars by 2024

2 Jun 2016

Ever the optimist, Elon Musk, the man behind the revolutionary SpaceX company, thinks we could send humans to Mars in less than a decade.

Setting foot on Mars is a dream Elon Musk shares with an awful lot of people, creating a company that may soon do that, though, sets him apart.

SpaceX is a bit of a space courier, bringing supplies up to and down from the International Space Station (ISS) on regular occasions. So often, in fact, that it developed – through many trials and tribulations – ways to land rockets on Earth in such a way that they can be reused.

The research undertaken by SpaceX puts it in prime position to prosper in space travel.

All these (un)successful missions are with a view to polishing up technologies that have the potential to send humanity to Mars, to join up with the rovers rallying around the Red Planet as we speak.

SpaceX’s first mission to Mars is slated for 2018. Working alongside NASA, SpaceX’s Dragon 2 will be as much a research mission as anything else.

The idea was that a dozen or so years of these kind of missions – from SpaceX, NASA or whoever – would eventually lead to a crewed mission in the 2030s.

Musk, though, has more immediate plans. Should everything go well and according to plan – which is nowhere near a given – “we should be able to launch people in 2024, with arrival in 2025.”

Speaking at Code Conference in the US, Musk’s claims are as bold as ever.

Back when the 2018 mission was announced, NASA said it was providing “technical support”, rather than financial, in return for all the juicy information SpaceX will gather about entry, descent and landing scenarios.

There are an awful lot of projects that space organisations are undertaking at the moment, with the express goal to get to Mars. The ISS, for example, is trialling a new expandable facility which, if successful, is a new, cheaper way to transport habitats.

Gordon Hunt was a journalist with Silicon Republic