Cargo flights to the Red Planet are expected to begin in 2018, the next time Earth and Mars align favorably for interplanetary travel.
Ilon Musk believes that the crew will be able to take off on board the as yet unannounced mega Falcon heavy rocket eight years after a series of unmanned missions starting in 2018. This was stated by the founder, CEO and chief technical guru of SpaceX this week.
Speaking during an interview onstage at the Code Conference in Rancho Palos Verdes, California, Musk gave several clues that he would send people to Mars, including on rockets with a much larger payload than the Falcon Heavy (test Falcon Heavy). whose debut flight from Florida is expected before the end of the year.
Falcon Heavy is basically the first stage Falcon 9 with two more Falcon 9 rockets as trailed engines that increased the payload of a low-Earth orbit rocket from 50.265 pounds to 119000 pounds - equivalent to a 737 jet liner fully loaded with passengers, luggage and fuel.
For comparison, NASA's Apollo lunar rocket carried a maximum load of 310,000 pounds in low-Earth orbit.
The space launch system of the US space agency, which plans to make a test flight in early September 2018, will be able to lift 154,000 pounds in low earth orbit in its original configuration. In future versions it is planned to provide a load capacity of 286,000 pounds. Musk also points to the spacious Dragon spacecraft for manned flights to Mars.
Next year, SpaceX plans to debut the passenger version of its cargo ship Dragon, which currently serves as a ferry to deliver to the International Space Station for NASA.
Dragon version 2, or Dragon with a crew, plans to fly for the first time in May and will make a test flight to the station with NASA astronauts aboard until the end of 2017.
Dragon 2, flying without a crew, will also be used for the original SpaceX route to Mars, which is the target for launch in 2018.
“I would not recommend (people) to travel to Mars in this one, since it has the internal volume of a large SUV. The trip for the Dragon will be about six months. It's a long time to pass it off in an SUV, ”said Musk.
“He also does not have the opportunity to return to Earth,” he added.
Musk said he will reveal the details of the SpaceX Mars project in September at the International Astronautical Congress in Guadalajara, Mexico.
Mars and Earth are favorably aligned for interplanetary travel approximately every 26 months.
“We are setting up cargo flights to Mars so that people can count on more ... and I think that if everything goes according to plan, we should be able to launch people, probably in 2024, with the arrival in 2025,” said Musk.