Elon Musk to unveil Mars plans this year, wants to go to space by 2020
This week, Elon Musk addressed some key questions about SpaceX's ambitions for Mars, as well as his personal plans. Rumors have been swirling of how the company would soon unveil an ambitious architecture that will allow it to begin human missions to Mars within a decade.
Musk said, "I'm hoping to describe that architecture later this year at IAC ... and I think that will be quite exciting." This year's International Astronautical Conference will be held in Guadalajara, Mexico, from September 26 to 30. This may include discussion of both a super-heavy rocket as well as starships that could ferry large numbers of people from Earth to Mars, known as the Mars Colonial Transporter.
As for why he remains ultimately focused on Mars, Musk turned poetic, citing the need to protect the future of humanity so that "The light of consciousness is not extinguished." An equally important reason, he said, is: "This will be an incredible adventure, the greatest adventure ever, and there needs to be things that inspire people."
It is safe to say there is a fair amount of skepticism in the traditional aerospace community about SpaceX's technical and financial wherewithal to pull off the colonization of Mars during the next couple of decades. But Musk said human missions could begin by about 2025. Asked if this was too soon by the moderator, Musk replied that nine years "seems like a long time to me."
Musk also said he hopes to fly in one of his Dragon spacecraft to the International Space Station in four or five years. Although a handful of space tourists have visited the Russian Mir Station and International Space Station aboard government vehicles, it would be unprecedented for a person whose company had built a spacecraft to then fly that spacecraft into space.
After this the moderator asked, is he training for such an adventure? Not really, Musk replied. He's taken some parabolic flights, which simulate weightlessness for about 20 seconds at a time. But that's about it. "I don't think it's that hard honestly," he said. "You float around."