A crewed mission to Mars could happen sooner than you think.
Astronauts will likely reach the surface of the Red Planet before the end of the 2020s, SpaceX President and COO Gwynne Shotwell recently told CNBC’s Shepard Smith.
“I think it will be in this decade, yes. People on the moonearlier,” Shotwell said in the brief interview, which you can watch here.
“I think we need to get a big delivery to the surface of Marchand then people will start to think about it more seriously,” she added. “And then, I think five or six years from now, people will see that it’s going to be a real place to go.”
Related: How living on Mars could challenge colonists (infographic)
SpaceX, of course, aims to be the one to make this ambitious vision a reality. The company is developing a huge reusable rocket-spacecraft combo called Spatialship to take people and payloads to the moon, Mars and beyond.
Starship already has several lunar missions on its file. In 2018, for example, Japanese billionaire Yusaku Maezawa booked the vehicle for a trip around the moon with a target launch date of 2023. And NASA chose Starship to be the first crewed lunar lander for its Artemis programwhich plans to send astronauts near the south pole of the Moon in 2025.
NASA sees Artemis as a Mars moon program and intends to launch a crewed mission to the Red Planet around 2040 – around a decade later, Shotwell sees the boots crash into earth for the first time red.
SpaceX is working on an important milestone in the development of Starship – the vehicle’s first-ever orbital test flight, which the company aims to launch from its South Texas facility, called Starbase, in the near future. This launch, however, cannot proceed until the US Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) completes an environmental assessment of Starbase’s operations.
This review was originally scheduled to be completed by the end of 2021, but the FAA has repeatedly delayed its completion, most recently as of May 31.
Shotwell’s interview with Smith was part of “Inspiring America: The 2022 Inspiration List,” a show that airs this weekend on the NBCUniversal News Groups television and streaming networks. Learn more about “Inspiring America” and how to watch it here.
Mike Wall is the author of “The low(Grand Central Publishing, 2018; illustrated by Karl Tate), a book about the search for extraterrestrial life. Follow him on Twitter @michaeldwall. Follow us on twitter @Spacedotcom Or on Facebook.