SpaceX, the commercial space travel company led by Tesla Motors CEO Elon Musk, spoke with CNBC about how he would like to get the first people to Mars in 10-16 years using SpaceX rockets and spacecraft. This interview is consistent with remarks that Musk had earlier when saying he wanted to establish a colony on Mars in the 2020s.
NASA said it would try to put a human on Mars by 2035 if it can secure the necessary funding. It is possible that SpaceX may go public to raise the funding to fly to Mars.
SpaceX would likely have to use the Falcon Heavy launch vehicle and a certain version of the Dragon spaceship to pull off the feat of getting humans to Mars.
The journey to Mars would likely take around 200 days and there is a risk of radiation exposure. The biggest challenges are landing safely on Mars, surviving on Mars, and getting back to Earth. NASA has successfully landed and taken off the moon and landed a rover on Mars so it has much more experience.
SpaceX has not announced any plans of getting to the moon as of yet. SpaceX’s upcoming Dragon capsule will be able to transport astronauts to the International Space Station, but it is not equipped for a landing or takeoff.