The fact that Elon Musk wants to go to Mars is no secret. After all, he has said he thinks it will be possible to establish colonies of settlers on the Red Planet in the future.
However, in order to reach that celestial goal, Musk also knows that a lot of things have to break in the right direction. The first of those is an actual rocket capable of launching humans on the approximately 35-million-mile voyage from Earth to Mars. And Musk says we may not have to wait too much longer for the first of those rockets to get into action.
During an surprise appearance at the South by Southwest Conference in Austin, Texas, on Sunday, Musk said his SpaceX company could launch its first rockets to Mars as soon as early 2019. And, as befitting Musk's assertions that the rockets need to be reusable, he also said the spaceships would not only go to Mars, but make a return trip back to Earth.
"I think we'll be able to do short flights, sort of up-and-down flights, probably some time in the first half of next year," Musk said during his appearance.
The SpaceX rocket, which is going by the code name "BFR," will be so big that it will have double the liftoff thrust of NASA's famous Saturn V rocket, which sent astronauts to the Moon during the Apollo program. The last manned mission to the Moon was Apollo 17, in 1972.
Musk has said he believes SpaceX rockets will be able to start taking people to Mars by 2024.
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Posted: 2018-03-15 @ 2:02pm PT
SpaceX did NOT state that they would be launching BFR to Mars in 2019. SpaceX stated that they hoped to begin testing short "hops" of the BFR's upper stage, the "Big Falcon Ship" (BFS) in 2019. SpaceX might begin the first test flights of BFR in 2020.