In December 2021, Elon Musk predicted that humans will be on Mars within a decade. Now, SpaceX President and Chief Operating Officer Gwynne Shotwell told CNBC's Shepard Smith on Saturday that humanity will touch the ground on the Red Planet before the end of the 2020s.
A large delivery to the surface of Mars
"I think it will be in this decade, yes. People on the moon, sooner," Shotwell said.
"I think we need to get a large delivery to the surface of Mars, and then people will start thinking harder about it," she added. "And then, I think within five or six years, people will see that that will be a real place to go."
How do the ambitious executives plan to make it to Mars? Aboard their new ship: Starship.
Starship is designed to be the first reusable spacecraft that will be able to take crew and cargo to the Moon and Mars before returning to Earth and it is so advanced that it supposedly has got the competition worried.
Where is Starship at in its development?
A first-ever orbital test flight
SpaceX is working toward the vehicle's first-ever orbital test flight, which the company wants to launch from its South Texas facility, called Starbase, at a quickly approaching date. However, for that launch to occur, the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has to complete an environmental review of the activities at Starbase.
That assessment was originally supposed to be finished by the end of 2021, but the FAA has delayed it on several occasions. It's now targeting a May 31 submission.
That doesn't mean that Starship has no mission planned.
In 2018, Japanese billionaire Yusaku Maezawa confirmed that he booked the vehicle to do a round-the-moon trip for 2023. Meanwhile, NASA chose Starship to be the first crewed lunar lander for its Artemis program in 2025, its mission that aims to explore the moon's south pole.