Elon Musk wants to shuttle humans to Mars by 2026—that’s about the timeframe NASA is aiming for, give or take. The serial entrepreneur responsible for space exploration company SpaceX, , however, said he’s willing to do it with or without NASA’s help, which is pretty bold for a company that has only managed to shuttle supplies to the ISS. Elon Musk hasn’t been shy about his desire to visit the Red Planet, and his intentions are very clearly being stated; according to Elon Musk, getting humanity off home base is imperative for ensuring “the survival of humanity.”
SpaceX has rapidly worked toward creating technology feasible for a potential Mars mission, and Elon Musk believes everything can be ready in 10 to 12 years. That’s a long time to wait for anything, but when you consider we’re actually talking about a trip to Mars—a planet about 33.9 million miles from Earth—the wait suddenly doesn’t seem all that long. This isn’t like shuttling a robot to the Martian planet, either. Elon Musk says the most important thing is to have a “self-sustaining city on Mars, to make life multi-planetary.”
It seems like a truly impossible dream, especially when there are enough problems to address here on Earth. But Elon Musk is clearly driven, and SpaceX has made progress with its Falcon 9r rocket; its Falcon Heavy rocket, meanwhile, is already in development, and will have the power capable of shuttling people and payload to Mars, something that’s not currently possible with current technology. Additionally, Musk has already unveiled SpaceX’s Dragon V2, which is a step toward such a mission.
There’s obviously some huge hurdles for SpaceX to overcome, and anyone else making the statements Musk did on national television would probably be laughed off the air. But this is Musk we’re talking about, the same guy who created PayPal, Tesla and SpaceX. If he’s hopeful we’ll take people to Mars in the next 10 to 12 years, we’re inclined to believe it could actually happen.