Elon Musk Says Flights for Colonizing Mars to Begin in 2019

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Billionaire entrepreneur and founder of SpaceX Elon Musk speaks below a computer-generated illustration of his BFR rocket at the 68th International Astronautical Congress 2017 in Adelaide, Australia, on September 29, 2017.

Speaking at the South by South West (SXSW) festival in Austin, TX., SpaceX and Tesla CEO Musk said he enivisions test flights of his Mars spacecraft next year, though cautioned early trips could end in death. "For the people who go to Mars, it'll be far more unsafe. It kind of reads like (Ernest) Shackleton's ad for Antarctic explorers: hard, dangerous, good chance you'll die", Musk said. "But there will be some who will, for whom the excitement of frontier and exploration exceeds the danger", he added.

"I think we'll be able to do short flights, up and down flights, some time in the first half of next year", Musk has said.

However, Musk sensed that too much anticipation could hurt him and quipped that he might be a little too ambitious about the timeline of testing the rockets.

The rocket ship that is expected to eventually get to the Red Planet is the BFR rocket system.

The Big Falcon Rocket will feature as massive first-stage booster with 31 Raptor engines - a new rocket engine from SpaceX.

Musk had a surprise question-and-answer session with SXSW attendees.

He said: "I think once we build it we'll have a point of proof. something that other companies and countries can go and do".

But despite such heady ambitions, Musk also noted how bloody unsafe shipping humans to Mars will be. But after this, he promised an "explosion of entrepreneurial opportunity, because Mars will need everything from iron foundries to pizza joints to night clubs".

"A second mission, with both cargo and crew, is targeted for 2024, with primary objectives of building a propellant depot and preparing for future crew flights". Musk revealed Sunday that his company's Mars rocket could be ready for tests as early as 2019.

Musk has already made headlines by launching a Tesla Roadster into space using the Falcon Heavy space shuttle, manufactured by SpaceX.

"What's incredible about the ship, assuming we can make full and rapid reusability work is that we can reduce the cost, marginal cost per flight, dramatically, by orders of magnitude compared to where it is today", Musk said.

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