SpaceX CEO Elon Musk: Humans on Mars in 7 years

By Jerry Hume, Reporter
Last Updated: Friday, September 29, 2017, 3:22 PM EDT

SpaceX Founder and CEO Elon Musk says he plans to send a spacecraft to Mars in five years and put humans on the red planet in seven years.

Musk laid out his ambitious goals at the International Astronautical Congress in Adelaide, Australia on Friday.

  • Elon Musk plans to send cargo to Mars in 2022
  • Says money from satellites and serving ISS can pay for production
  • Musk plans to replace Falcon 9 rocket and Dragon capsule

"Build up the base, starting with one ship, then multiple ships, then building out the city, then making the city bigger and even bigger," Musk told the crowd.

His goal is to make humans a multi-planetary species.

"It's about believing in the future and thinking that the future will be better than the past, and I can’t think of anything more exciting than going out there and being among the stars," he said.

The key to his project is a large rocket and spacecraft, code name BFR.

Musk plans to send cargo to Mars first, in the year 2022. After building a base, complete with a propellant production facility, humans would arrive in the year 2024.

The spacecraft can carry about 100 people at a time.

Of course, astronomical costs would be the concern for a mission to Mars.

But Musk says money from launching satellites and servicing the International Space Station can pay for its production.

He hopes to replace the Falcon 9 rocket and Dragon capsule with the BFR spacecraft to save on costs.

Plus he points to the company’s reusability as a way to make missions to Mars more affordable.

"It's really crazy that we wield these really sophisticated rockets and then we crash them every time we fly. This is mad," said Musk, who pointed out his company has completed 16 successful landings of its first stage booster.

Musk says the BFR ship can also be used for missions to the ISS and even to the Moon.

"This will enable the creation of a lunar base," said Musk. "It's 2017, we should have a lunar base by now, what the hell is going on?"

In addition, Musk says there are plans to eventually use the powerful rocket to send humans from one side of the Earth to the other side in less than an hour.

"If we're building this thing to go to the Moon and Mars," he said, "why not go to other places on Earth as well?"

Musk says a flight would cost about the same as an airplane ticket.

He still hasn’t disclosed how much a seat on a trip to Mars will cost.