Futurist and inventor Elon Musk unveiled ambitious plans on Friday to send cargo ships to Mars in five years and use rockets to carry people between Earth's major cities in under half an hour. The founder of SpaceX said a planned interplanetary transport system, code-named Big Fucking Rocket (BFR), would be downsized so it could carry out a range of tasks that would then pay for future Mars missions.
Lockheed Martin's human spaceflight strategy chief Rob Chambers (C), system architect Tim Cichan (R) and systems engineer Danielle Ritchey attend a press conference in Adelaide on Friday. Pic/AFP
"The most important thing... is that I think we have figured out how to pay for BFR," Musk told a packed auditorium at a global gathering of space experts in Adelaide. "Which is to have a smaller vehicle, it's still pretty big, but one that can... do everything that's needed in the greater Earth orbit activity."
Musk said his firm had starting building the system, with the construction of the first ship to start in six to nine months. "I feel fairly confident that we can complete the ship and launch in about five years," he added. At least two cargo ships would land on the Red Planet in 2022, with the key mission of finding the best source of water, he said. The rockets would place power, mining and life-support infrastructure on Mars to support future missions, with four ships set to take people, equipment and supplies to the planet in 2024.
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