Elon Musk Plans to Launch a Mission to Mars in Just Five Years' Time

Friday, 29 September 2017 - 8:44PM
Space
Mars
SpaceX
Friday, 29 September 2017 - 8:44PM
Elon Musk Plans to Launch a Mission to Mars in Just Five Years' Time
SpaceX
Earlier this week, Elon Musk made a lot of noise about having a big announcement on the horizon that he was particularly pleased to be bringing to the world.

Now, we know what has the founder of SpaceX so excited: he's aiming to send rockets to Mars by the year 2022. "That's not a typo," said Musk at the currently ongoing 68th International Astronautical Conference (IAC), "although it is aspirational".

According to Musk, the plan is to build, prepare, and launch a pair of cargo ships to Mars by 2022, a date that's just five years in the future. The year 2022 is significant, because it's a point when Earth's orbit and Mars' orbit will bring the two planets as close together as possible, enabling SpaceX to take advantage of shorter travel distances for their ships.


These initial cargo ships will be unmanned, and will set things up for a future ship launch, in 2024, which will carry humans to the planet for the first time - again, 2024 is a great time to head to Mars thanks to a shorter travel distance. You can see a shortened version of Musk's speech at the IAC below, and you can see his full 40 minute speech here.



The first two rockets will be crucial to future missions, ensuring that the supplies and equipment that the astronauts need will be waiting for them upon arrival. The 2022 ships will also be instrumental in picking a location for the humans to touch down on the Red Planet, scouting to find the best spot for convenient access to natural resources that the crew will require.

The most important starting point will be finding a clean source of water, followed by an attempt to locate the best possible location for a manufacturing plant that will produce rocket propellant. With these two resources sorted, astronauts can travel to the planet without a danger of being tapped forever in a very real situation not unlike The Martian.

Musk is excited to see how things go, and is confident that, while the 2022 deadline for an initial rocket launch is ambitious, his team should be able to pull it off:

Opening quote
"I feel fairly confident that we can complete the ship and prepare the ship for launch in about five years. Five years feels like a long time to me."
Closing quote


SpaceX is far from the only organization to be pushing for a Mars visit at present. In the coming years, we're going to hear a lot more about these plans, and while NASA claims that they're not racing SpaceX to this landmark achievement, it'll be interesting to see which group actually manages to put humans on Mars first.

Whoever it is, it won't be long before heading to the Red Planet is a lot more achievable, although the eighteen month travel time will probably keep this from becoming a popular vacation destination.

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