SpaceX founder Elon Musk is an ambitious man, and in his latest interview he has stated that the company plans to start testing Mars rockets by early 2019.
Musk was in conversation with famed screenwriter Jonathan Nolan at the South By Southwest conference in Austin, Texas. “We are building the first ship, the first Mars or interplanetary ship, right now. I think we’ll be able to do short flights, short up and down flights, sometime in the first half of next year,” Musk was quoted by CNBC as saying.
This is a very hurried timeline considering that the first launch of SpaceX’s Falcon Heavy rocket was pushed back multiple times. Musk himself says that, “historically people have told me my timelines have been optimistic.”
The Mars rocket is many times larger than the Falcon Heavy, and has a much more complex build. SpaceX has only made the design concept public along with a humongous fuel tank made of carbon fiber. The Mars rocket is 400 foot tall, and will be able to carry 100-200 people to Mars at the cost of $200,000 (approximately Rs 13,009,000) per ticket. The current code name for the Mars rocket is BFR which Musk says is “a bit of a Rorschach test in acronym form.”
SpaceX’s current timeline plan has it conducting human flights in 2022, which is just four years from now. And if SpaceX is actually conducting a test next year, it is going to be a preview for the flights to come. Musk’s intention for concentrating on interplanetary travel is to inspire other space agencies and companies to do the same. “Once we have it, we’ll have a sort of point of proof, something that other countries and companies will go and do,” he said.
He further added that he intends SpaceX to be the vehicle to Mars to which entrepreneurs would respond by building the infrastructure of the Mars colony. His vision for a future in Mars includes “iron foundries to pizza joints” all built by entrepreneurs, and direct democratic government.