If all goes according to the plans of billionaire entrepreneur Elon Musk, humans will begin the colonisation of Mars as early as 2024.
Musk outlined his bold plan at the International Astronautical Congress in South Australia’s capital Adelaide on Friday, where he announced the development of a new rocket and spaceship, code-named BFR (Big F*cking Rocket) to carry up to 120 Martian settlers.
He said his company SpaceX aims to land two cargo ships on the Red Planet by 2022 to place power, mining and life support systems for future flights.
“That’s not a typo,” he said, referring to the date, just 5 years from now. “Although it is aspirational,” Musk added.
Two years later, the first ship carrying crews would arrive, he said. The journey to Mars currently takes about eight months.
“From there the Martian settlement could just get bigger and bigger,” he said, adding the BFR spaceship could also be used to service the International Space Station and for a future project to establish a “village” on the Moon.
The rocket will stand 100 metres tall with 31 engines to lift a payload of more than 4,000 tons into space. The spaceship will be 48 metres long and feature 40 cabins that could carry three people each.
SpaceX plans to start building the first spaceship by the middle of next year, he said, adding the cost could be brought down by reusing parts and improving technology.