Billionaire entrepreneur Elon Musk has revealed plans to put humans on Mars by 2024 and to cut travel times to anywhere in the world to about 30 minutes.
Mr Musk outlined the bold agenda for his SpaceX company in Adelaide on Friday, including the development of a new rocket and spaceship, code-named BFR , to carry more than 100 Martian settlers.
He believes he could send the first two cargo ships to the red planet by 2022 with the first two crewed craft touching down just two years later.
An added bonus could be using the same technology to fly people anywhere in the world, from Los Angeles to Sydney for example, in less than half an hour, potentially revolutionising global transportation with passengers paying essentially the same as they do now for a commercial airline ticket.
Mr Musk said he expected to start construction of the first BFR in 2018 and was “fairly confident” of being able to launch in about five years.
“So we start with one ship, then multiple ships and start building up the (Martian) city,” he told the International Astronautical Congress.
The BFR will stand 100 metres tall with 31 engines to lift a payload of more than 4000 tonnes into space.
Its interplanetary vehicle will be 48 metres long and feature 40 cabins, each capable of carrying three people.
But Mr Musk said the cost would be much cheaper than other launch vehicles currently available with the added benefit that it could safely return to earth and be reused.
US aerospace giant Lockheed Martin has also revealed its latest plans for a mission to Mars, releasing details of a new lander – a single-stage spacecraft designed to ferry astronauts between the orbiting base camp and the planet’s surface.
It believes it could launch a Mars mission within the next decade.