A crewed mission to Mars could happen sooner than you think.
Astronauts will likely make it to the surface of the Red Planet before the end of the 2020s, CNBC’s Shepard Smith, President and COO of SpaceX Gwynne Shotwell, recently said.
“I think it will happen in this decade, yes. People on the moon, quick,” Shotwell said in a short interview, which you can watch here.
“I think we need to get more delivery to the surface of Mars, and then people will start thinking more about it,” she added. “And then, I think, in five or six years, people will see that this is going to be a real place to go.”
On the subject: How life on Mars can challenge the colonists (infographic)
SpaceX is, of course, committed to making this ambitious vision a reality. The company is developing a massive, reusable rocket-spacecraft combo called Starship to carry people and payloads to the Moon, Mars and beyond.
Starship already has several missions to the moon. For example, in 2018, Japanese billionaire Yusaku Maezawa booked a craft to travel around the world with a target launch date of 2023. near the south pole of the moon in 2025.
NASA sees Artemis as a Moon-to-Mars flight program and intends to launch a manned mission to the Red Planet in or around 2040—about a decade later than Shotwell sees boots first crunch in red mud.
SpaceX is working on a major milestone in Starship development, the first-ever orbital test flight of a craft that the company wants to launch from its South Texas facility, called Starbase, in the near future. However, this launch cannot happen until the US Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) completes an environmental assessment of Starbase’s operations.
This review was originally supposed to be completed by the end of 2021, but the FAA has delayed its completion several times, most recently until May 31st.
Shotwell’s interview with Smith was part of Inspiring America: A List of Inspirations for 2022, airing this weekend on NBCUniversal News Group and streaming networks. Learn more about Inspirational America and how to watch it here.
Mike Wall is the author of Out There (Grand Central Publishing, 2018; illustrated by Carl Tate) about the search for alien life. Follow him on Twitter @michaeldwall. Follow us on Twitter @Spacedotcom or on Facebook.