SpaceX will send humans to Mars within 10 to 20 years, according to an interview with its CEO in the Wall Street Journal. Elon Musk says his company will send people to space within three years, and he wants to colonize other planets next.
"I want SpaceX to help make life multi-planetary," he said. "We're going all the way to Mars, I think. Best case, 10 years, worst case, 15 to 20 years."
In an interview with the Journal's Alan Murray, Musk said he wants humans to build a self-sustaining base on Mars.
"A future when humanity is a spacefaring civilization, out there exploring the stars, is an incredibly exciting future," he said.
The majority of the interview focuses on Tesla Motors' efforts and the state of electric cars in the U.S., including price and availability and the problem of charging the vehicles. But Musk's pronouncements about space colonization are far juicier, in our opinion.
He said SpaceX would be the transportation provider, not necessarily the colony-builder.
"We want to be like the shipping company that brought people from Europe to America, or like the Union Pacific railroad. Our goal is to facilitate the transfer of people and cargo to other planets, and then it's going to be up to people if they want to go," he said.
Along with developing several successful heavy-lift rockets for cargo, SpaceX aims to send astronauts to space for NASA and other clients. Last week, the company won a $75 million contract from NASA to make its Falcon 9 rocket and Dragon space capsule ready for humans. Sierra Nevada, Boeing and Blue Origin also won contracts to build capsules.
Last year, SpaceX became the first to launch a private spaceship into orbit and bring it home.