SpaceX, the company owned by tycoon Elon Musk, has big plans for the future of space exploration. It is no secret that the company has been standing up to NASA for a few years now as the benchmark entity in space innovation , and it seems that it will continue to be so. Getting humans to step on Mars for the first time has always been in the company’s sights, and it’s a goal Musk has pursued for years. Well, according to SpaceX, this historic milestone could happen this very decade.
Gwynne Shotwell, president of SpaceX and chief of operations, explained in a recent interview with CNBC Television the importance of the red planet on the company’s radar. While discussing some of SpaceX’s future plans, Shotwell revealed her belief that humans would be stepping on Mars before 2030 :
“We should be able to put people on the surface of Mars within a decade. I think it will be within this decade, yes. I think we’ll be able to get a lot of missions to Mars, and then I think five or six years from now, people will see that that will be a place where they can really go”
NASA is not so clear, they talk several decades before it is possible
As confident as Gwynne Shotwell seems with her plans, NASA isn’t entirely sure. The space agency has the Artemis program , which will be responsible for further moon landings in the near future. The ultimate goal of this program is to land a manned spacecraft on Mars, but they believe that won’t happen until well into the 2040s. NASA is arguably the entity with the most experience with Mars missions , but they still have a vision. skeptical about the landing of a ship with astronauts.
At the moment, human beings have only been able to send rovers or autonomous teams to the Red Planet, however, all the data collected by the vehicles is gradually paving the way for a possible landing. Whether this will happen in five years or forty we cannot be sure, but after conquering the moon it seems that both SpaceX and NASA are clear that Mars will be the next country where humans will leave their mark.
I’m a science journalist and host of Cosmic Controversy (brucedorminey.podbean.com) as well as author of “Distant Wanderers: the Search for Planets Beyond the Solar System.” I primarily cover aerospace and astronomy. I’m a former Hong Kong bureau chief for Aviation Week & Space Technology magazine and former Paris-based technology correspondent for the Financial Times newspaper who has reported from six continents. A 1998 winner in the Royal Aeronautical Society’s Aerospace Journalist of the Year Awards (AJOYA), I’ve interviewed Nobel Prize winners and written about everything from potato blight to dark energy. Previously, I was a film and arts correspondent in New York and Europe, primarily for newspaper outlets like the International Herald Tribune, the Boston Globe and Canada’s Globe & Mail. Recently, I’ve contributed to Scientific American.com, Nature News, Physics World, and Yale Environment 360.com. I’m a current contributor to Astronomy and Sky & Telescope and a correspondent for Renewable Energy World. Twitter @bdorminey