Tech tycoon Elon Musk is no stranger to making headlines, or, one could argue, history, but even for Musk, his latest SpaceX announcement seems downright ambitious. Last week, Musk not only laid out plans for a rocket-based transportation system that could put commercial airlines to shame, but he nonchalantly included plans to send a cargo mission to Mars in only five years, followed by a manned mission two years later… and that’s not even all.
“That’s not a typo — although it is aspirational,” Musk said as he unveiled his plans to send a ship to Mars in 2022.
For those keeping score, that would place Musk’s space venture a conservative ten years ahead of NASA’s planned Mars missions, which intends to use the massive Space Launch Platform (SLS) to ferry its crew to the Red Planet, despite delaying its first test now until 2019 “at the earliest.”
In order to get to Mars so quickly, Musk admitted that the SpaceX ship design had to be revamped and made smaller. That shift means a lower total cost, and a smaller thrust requirement to get the ship into orbit. It also means Musk’s company can begin construction of the first SpaceX interplanetary ship in the first half of next year.