Elon Musk has announced when the first of his SpaceX trips to Space will be taking place – and it’s a lot sooner than anyone expected.
Musk made the announcement at the South by Southwest Festival and revealed that tests on prototype models for the SpaceX rocket ship will begin in 2019 and could take to space either later that year or in the early part of 2020. Wow.
That also means the timeline for flights to Mars has been similarly sped up.
“We are building the first Mars, or interplanetary ship, and I think we’ll be able to do short trips, flights by first half of next year,” he said during a question and answer session.
Musk has previously revealed further plans for the colonisation of Mars back in September. Those plans would have seen a minimum of two sizeable cargo ships, loaded with supplies, head to the Red Planet by 2022 to establish a human settlement.
Props to whoever signs up for that most depressing of suicide missions. Mind you, they could have the last laugh if we end up getting engulfed in a nuclear war. Or at least the last laugh until they run out of supplies.
In any case, in a move that’s likely to have left everyone over at SpaceX feeling a little stressed, Musk is now talking about the project getting off the ground next year with initial space flights for the public.
His plans for Mars are pretty complex too.
“We’ll start off building the most elementary of infrastructure: just a base to create propellant, a power station, glass domes in which to grow crops, all of the sort of fundamentals without which you would not survive,” Musk has said.
“Then there’s going to be an explosion of entrepreneurial opportunity, because Mars will need everything from iron foundries to pizza joints.”
Though Musk is keen to stress his timeline isn’t necessarily set in stone, he’s keen to stress that while these initial space flights should be fun, if a little expensive, anyone heading to Mars is at risk of painful death.
“For the people who go to Mars, it’ll be far more dangerous. It kind of reads like Shackleton’s ad for Antarctic explorers. ‘Difficult, dangerous, good chance you’ll die. Excitement for those who survive.’ That kind of thing,” he said.
More specifically, Musk warned that the air on Mars is extremely thin, meaning any arriving spaceship could end up picking up speed during landing and crashing as a result. So you might die on arrival.
This sounds like a very bad idea.