Elon Musk 'Highly Confident' SpaceX Crewed Mars Landing Will Happen by 2026

Elon Musk has noted how SpaceX's Starship development isn't moving as fast as he'd hoped.
Brad Bergan

CEO SpaceX Elon Musk said he's "highly confident" his space company will successfully put humans on Mars on or before 2026 — adding the feat will be possible "about six years from now," during an award show webcast in Berlin, Germany.

"If we get lucky, maybe four years," said Musk during the webcast. "We want to send an uncrewed vehicle there in two years."


Elon Musk 'highly confident' SpaceX crewed Mars mission coming by 2026

Musk's ambitious goal for 2026 synchs with what he said previously during the International Astronautical Congress in September 2016 — when he hinted that "if things go super well," putting humans on Mars "might be kind of in the 10-year timeframe."

"I don't want to say that's when it will occur — there's a huge amount of risk," said Musk during the 2016 event.

Musk clarifies SpaceX Mars timeline during award event

This news came as Elon Musk received an award from media giant Axel Springer on Tuesday, after which he had a seat to offer a comprehensive interview on topics spanning from space to AI, and from Tesla to underpopulation, Tech Crunch reports.

Musk opened with words on SpaceX's plans for Mars — clarifying timelines under development to make the trip to the Red Planet with Starship, the highly-anticipated next-gen spacecraft slated to fly a high-altitude test run Friday, Dec. 4.

Fully-reusable starship could reduce flight costs to fuel

Unlike SpaceX's collection of Falcon Heavy and Falcon 9 rockets — which we know are partially reusable, Musk's goal is to make Starship 100% reusable.

This would be the first rocket of its kind — resembling a commercial airplane in practice, since it will have short turnaround times between flights.

Once tested and active, the only major cost for Starship flights will be fuel, reports CNBC.

Musk notes Starship progress behind debut schedule

Elon Musk's timeline moves in lockstep with the period of relatively synchronized orbits the Earth and Mars share once every 26 months. While the cosmic schedule is clear, Musk himself has expressed disappointment that Starship development — saying it isn't moving as fast as he initially hoped when the first prototype rocket debuted in September 2019.

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When it was unveiled, Musk said Starship might reach orbit by March 2020, but SpaceX has pushed the first orbital flight back to 2021. Musk also said Starship might fly people into space this year, but later admitted the rocket has many milestones — involving "hundreds of missions" before this can become a reality.

SpaceX plans to fly 50,000-ft Starship test flight Friday

For now, SpaceX's top priority is the development of Starship — which has been the case since the firm launched two NASA astronauts in its first crewed mission. In June, Musk wrote a company-wide email urging the Starship program to accelerate "dramatically and immediately," CNBC reports.

Since then, SpaceX has completed two 500-ft (152.4-m) test flights of Starship prototypes — and the company is readying to fly the Starship to 50,000 ft (15,000 km) for the first time on Friday, Dec. 4.

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