Story at a glance

  • Tesla founder and CEO Elon Musk said he predicts his aerospace company SpaceX will be able to land a person on Mars in a maximum of 10 years.
  • Musk has expressed interest in sending humans to Mars in the past and detailed his vision of creating a self-sustaining city.
  • SpaceX successfully sent four civilians into space this past September.

Tesla CEO Elon Musk said Tuesday he believes his aerospace company SpaceX could be capable of flying people to Mars in as little as five years. 

The billionaire businessman said during an interview on the Lex Fridman podcast released on Tuesday that he predicts SpaceX's Starship rocket will be able to place humans on the Red Planet in a maximum of 10 years. 

"Best case is about five years, worst case 10 years," Musk told Fridman, adding the determining factor in the trip's timing is "engineering the vehicle" needed for the journey, according to Business Insider. 

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Musk outlined his vision for life on Mars in an interview with Ars Technica last year, which includes a self-sustaining colony equipped with solar-powered hydroponic farms underground or in enclosed environments to grow food. 

The world's richest person reportedly told Fridman that SpaceX has already begun testing prototypes of the Starship rocket, but the company is still trying to fine tune the rocket's design and cut down the projected price of a trip to Mars. 

"There is a certain cost per ton to the surface of Mars where we can accord to establish a self-sustaining city and then above that, we cannot afford to do it," Musk said during the interview. "Right now, you couldn't fly to Mars for $1 trillion. No amount of money could get you to Mars. We need to get that to, like, something that is actually possible at all." 

SpaceX made history when it launched the first mission to space with a completely civilian crew this past September. 

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Published on Dec 29, 2021