During an interview in Berlin, Germany this week, SpaceX CEO Elon Musk said he is “highly confident” that his space company will land humans on the Martian surface as soon as 2026, as CNBC reports.
“If we get lucky, maybe four years,” he added. “We want to send an uncrewed vehicle there in two years.”
These ambitious timelines all depend on the company’s development of the Starship, a massive spacecraft designed to carry up to 100 passengers or 100 tons of cargo between planets.
SpaceX has made significant strides in developing the spacecraft. The company’s latest prototype, called SN8, is set to attempt its first test flight to 50,000 feet some time this week.
What’s still unclear, however, is when the Starship will go orbital for the first time with astronauts on board. In October, Musk promised that “we have a fighting chance of making that second Mars transfer window” during the Mars Society event, referring to when Earth and Mars’ orbits align to make the trip most convenient some time in 2024.
The first crewed trips on board a Starship will not be for the faint of heart. During the Humans to Mars summit in September, Musk emphasized that the trip will be “a very hard and dangerous and difficult thing,” adding that there’s a “good chance you’ll die.”
READ MORE: Elon Musk is ‘highly confident’ SpaceX will land humans on Mars by 2026 [CNBC]
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