Astronauts will likely make it to the Red Planet’s surface before the end of the 2020s,  SpaceX President and Chief Operating Officer Gwynne Shotwell said recently.

“I think it will be in this decade, yes. People on, the moon sooner,” Shotwell said in an interview. “I think we need to get a large delivery to the surface of Mars, and then people will start thinking harder about it,” she added. “And then, I think within five or six years, people will see that that will be a real place to go.”

SpaceX, of course, aims to be the one to make this ambitious vision a reality. The company is developing a huge, reusable rocket-spaceship combo called Starship to take people and payloads to the moon, Mars and beyond.

Starship already has several moon missions on its docket. In 2018, for example, Japanese billionaire Yusaku Maezawa booked the vehicle for a round-the-moon trip with a target launch date of 2023. And NASA picked Starship to be the first crewed lunar lander for its Artemis program, which plans to put astronauts down near the moon’s south pole in 2025. 

NASA views Artemis as a moon-to-Mars program and intends to launch a crewed Red Planet mission in 2040 or thereabouts — about a decade later than Shotwell sees boots first crunching into the red dirt.  

Astronauts will likely make it to the Red Planet’s surface before the end of the 2020s, SpaceX President and Chief Operating Officer Gwynne Shotwell told CNBC’s Shepard Smith recently.

“I think it will be in this decade, yes. People on the moon, sooner,” Shotwell said in the brief interview, which you can watch here

Meanwhile, Virgin Galactic announced on Thursday, May 5 that commercial passenger service will be pushed back a quarter to the first three months of 2023, “due to supply chain and labour constraints.”

Virgin Galactic’s CEO, Michael Colglazier, noted the company is “containing the majority of these issues to minimize the impact on schedules” but provided few details in a press release.

Virgin Galactic’s first fully crewed spaceflight took place in July 2021, with founder Richard Branson on board. The company has briefly reopened ticket sales to customers twice since that flight, raising the price from a pre-Branson flight level of $250,000. 

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