SpaceX founder Elon Musk is “80% -90% confident” that the company’s massive new starship rockets will reach orbit next year, saying that this is an opportunity ready for an unfamiliar cargo mission to Mars in 2024 Will happen.
Musk said initial test flights would be difficult and carry a high risk of failure 2020 Conference of Mars Society. “We will probably lose a few ships before the atmospheric retreat and right landing,” he said.
Oysters Space Exploration Technologies Corp. is building a prototype of the giant rocket in Boca Chica, Texas, to further its ambition to establish a self-sufficient city on Mars. The company has also won a NASA contract for a human landing system on the moon using the new vehicle.
Musk predicted that the starship could be ready to test orbital refueling in 2022, a major milestone for vehicles attempting to transport cargo on the Moon and Mars. But he acknowledged that his projected dates for the rocket’s progress are “just estimates, obviously,” and may change.
“It’s not like I have all these secret dates and I’m just keeping them from people,” he said. To date, the new rocket has completed at least two successful 150-meter (492-foot) test hops. The starship is designed to carry heavy payloads around the solar system and hold more than 100 people.
In addition to orbital test flights, Musk said SpaceX has “a fighting chance” to send a starship payload to Mars – without people – in 2024. This is also the year when NASA wants to return astronauts to the moon.
Earth and Mars reach their closest proximity every 26 months, the typical cycle when the National Aeronautics and Space Administration and other government space agencies launch science missions on the planet.