Adelaide: SpaceX on Friday unveiled plans to put humans on Mars as early as 2024 and drastically reduce flight times on Earth with its “most powerful” rocket, completing the longest flight on our home planet within an hour.
SpaceX founder and CEO Elon Musk made the announcement on the final day of the 68th International Astronautical Congress (IAC) here, reports Xinhua news agency.
Musk, who also serves as CEO of automotive company Tesla, said SpaceX was aiming for cargo missions to the Red Planet in 2022 and crew with cargo by 2024.
SpaceX also announced its new fully reusable BFR rocket which could eventually be used for international flights on Earth as well besides doing almost every flight-related activity that the company enrages in or proposes to do, including carrying humans to Mars.
“I can’t emphasise enough how profound this is and how important this is,” Musk told the Congress as the keynote speaker.
The new BFR has the highest capacity payload of any rocket ever built, meaning it has the lowest launch cost, due to its status as a fully reusable rocket while also being the most powerful.
“It’s really crazy that we build these sophisticated rockets and then crash them every time we fire,” Musk said.
He said the new BFR could carry a 40-carriage spaceship to Mars with two or three people occupying each carriage.
The rocket is capable of flying from Earth to the Moon and back without refuelling, making creating a base on the Moon, dubbed Moon Base Alpha, achievable in near future.
SpaceX intends for the new, scaled-down BFR to replace its other flagship rockets, the Dragon, Falcon 9 and Falcon Heavy.
Musk said the rocket could travel from New York City to Shanghai in 37 minutes at a maximum speed of 28,968 km per hour.
“BFR will take you anywhere on Earth in less than 60 minutes,” Musk said.
Funding for BFR development will come from SpaceX’s satellite and International Space Station (ISS) revenue.
SpaceX’s announcement came hours after Lockheed Martin revealed new technology that would see it land on Mars in partnership with NASA by 2030.
SpaceX estimated this year that a permanent, self-sustaining colony on Mars was 50 to 100 years away.