Elon Musk, CEO of SpaceX, has said that his company could run commercial flights to Mars in thirty year’s time, and after ten years in operation, ticket prices could drop to $500,000. That is still a lot of money but it could make the formidable space voyage possible for many individuals. “My vision is for a fully reusable rocket transport system between Earth and Mars that is able to re-fuel on Mars—this is very important—so you don’t have to carry the return fuel when you go there,” he said. NASA is looking to try a manned Mars mission in the 2020s, though the 2030s may be a more realistic time frame.
What’s the Big Idea?
The key element to future space missions, as well as space tourism, says Musk, is that a spacecraft’s parts be reusable. Not having to replace massively expensive hardware drives down cost, making fuel the only major cost variable. “If you had to buy a new plane every time you flew somewhere, it would be incredibly expensive,” Musk says. Next month, SpaceX is scheduled to launch the world’s first private (unmanned) space mission to restock the International Space Station, using its Dragon capsule atop its Falcon 9 rocket to carry 53 tons of payload into orbit.