Business magnate and SpaceX CEO Elon Musk has been outspoken about his ambitions to inhabit the plant of Mars. At a congress back in 2016, Musk said he anticipated a "10-year timeframe" before people would have landed on the Red Planet. So his current 2026 projections are right on track. Here, we take a look at his recent statements about the likelihood of getting humans to Mars. From what the new timeline is like, to the physical SpaceX space ship he'll need to make the trip. Elon Musk is "highly confident" we'll have humans on Mars by 2026. What do we think about that?
Elon Musk says there could be humans on Mars by 2026
What are the chances?
Elon Musk has made headlines - yet again - with his bold statement about the new timeline for travel to Mars. Speaking on a webcast from Berlin on Tuesday, Musk said that if they get very lucky, they might even be able to narrow that down to four years. But, 2026 seems to be the more achievable goal.
This does, however, depend on various stars - excuse the pun - aligning to bring his ambition to life. First, they plan to send an uncrewed vehicle to the planet in two years. Only then will a crewed space ship follow, and on the exciting Starship rocket. The Starship was expected to reach its first orbit by March 2020 but, with this year's COVID chaos, that flight has yet to be completed. Now, March 2021 seems to be the more likely goal for the Starship's first orbital flight.
The new Starship rocket
A fundamental aspect of Musk's venture to Mars is the highly advanced and exciting Starship rocket. It's being developed in Boca Chica in Texas and a prototype was unveiled in September 2019. Despite needing to reach several milestones and complete hundreds of missions before people are allowed to be carried on the Starship, its development is looking promising.
The Starship rocket is a fully-reusable space ship that has been designed to be able to land on Mars, refuel using the planet's resources, and either fly back to Earth or venture out further. This stainless steel vehicle will hopefully have the capacity to carry cargo and up to 100 people on every flight. Because of its reusable materials, people are comparing it to a commercial airplane where the only significant cost is fuel. The Starship should be capable of completing short turnaround times and saving costs. Crucial if plans to create a city on Mars are to be realised.
ALSO SEE: 5 Tech Innovations Changing The World
What is Mars City?
While Musk says his company Tesla is all about contributing to a sustainable future on Earth, SpaceX is about exploring the possibility of a future beyond Earth. And he sees Mars City as the "life insurance policy" in case there's a catastrophe here and we need an escape plan. "There's gonna be people out there," said Musk. "We're gonna have a city on Mars, maybe go further, moons of Jupiter and everything."
Despite his confidence, Musk acknowledges that achieving life on Mars is no mean feat. He anticipates that the venture is going to be expensive and dangerous. In 2016 he was quoted as saying that travel to Mars still comes with "a huge amount of risk". But, he imagines Mars City as being a technical utopia, where a potential million-strong population could live out their lives and contribute to terraforming the planet.
If all goes to plan and SpaceX manages to plan a flight to Mars by 2026, would you want to be one of the first people to explore the planet? Elon Musk thinks that sounds like a pretty exciting future. A city on Mars, the potential to explore further and even have life on the moons of Jupiter. All we can say is, it'll be interesting to see where this story goes and we'll certainly be watching it closely.