SpaceX CEO Elon Musk has made no secret of his desire to get humans to Mars. He has hinted at doing so with something called the Mars Colonial Transporter (MCT) in the past. But despite previously saying he would reveal what this is in 2015, nothing materialized.
At the StartmeupHK Festival in Hong Kong this week, though, Musk had some encouraging words for would-be Martians. He said that in September of this year, he would reveal details about a new rocket and spacecraft beyond the current Falcon and Dragon series, which may be used for Mars missions.
“We're pretty close to sending crew up to the Space Station – that's currently scheduled for the end of next year,” he said, referencing the upcoming Dragon 2 vehicle that SpaceX is testing. The company is under contract by NASA to send astronauts to the ISS from 2017. “So that'll be exciting, with our Dragon 2 spacecraft.”
He continued: “And then we'll have a next-generation rocket and spacecraft beyond the Falcon-Dragon series, and I'm hoping to describe that architecture later this year at the International Astronautical Congress [in Guadalajara, Mexico, September 26 to 30] which is the big international space event of the year.”
“So I think that'll be quite exciting... And in terms of the first flights to Mars, we're hoping to do that in around 2025.”
A video of the interview with Musk is above. The comments on Mars are around the 30:30 mark. Invest Hong Kong/YouTube
This latter comment heavily suggests that Musk will reveal details about the MCT on a global stage at the IAC, where major players including NASA and ESA will be in attendance. NASA themselves wants to send humans to Mars in the 2030s; for Musk to outdo them with an earlier mission (a date of 2025 was touted) would be a significant coup for the decade-old company.
Elsewhere in the talk, Musk also revealed that he hoped to travel to the International Space Station (ISS) himself by the end of the decade. In the past, Musk has himself said that he also wouldn’t mind going to Mars to live out the rest of his days. “I would like to die on Mars. Just not on impact,” various sources have quoted him as saying.
Maybe, in September, we’ll find out how he plans to do just that.