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Seemingly unbothered by such trivial and mundane developments such as the recent price action of Tesla, which unlike many of its money-burning "story" peers has seen its stock languish this year amid growing sellside skepticism and downgrades, Elon Musk told an audience at South by Southwest to think big, and that his timeline for sending a space vehicle to Mars could mark its first short space flight as early as the first half of 2019.
Recall that Musk's SpaceX announced in September 2017, that it aims to send a cargo mission to the Red Planet by 2022. SpaceX's ultimate objective is to plant the seeds to put a human colony on Mars. A colony, mind you, that will cost a lot of taxpayer subsidized cash.
This is how Wired laid out Musk's grand vision last year:
Sporting Tony Stark facial hair, Musk outlined SpaceX's plan today at the 67th annual International Astronautical Congress in Guadalajara, Mexico. It involves a slew of new technology: gigantic, reusable rockets; carbon fiber fuel tanks; ultra-powered engines. Plus spaceships capable of carrying a hundred or more passengers to the Red Planet, landing, then returning to Earth to pick up more. Musk doesn't just want to go to Mars: He wants to build a civilization there. Which means he'll need all that sweet gear to make it cheap enough to work.
Cheap, of course, is relative. Still, Musk estimates that buying a single ticket to Mars right now (using non-existent tech) would probably cost around $10 billion. The same amount of cash could buy you a few square blocks in Midtown Manhattan. But once the so-called SpaceX Interplanetary Transport System is fully operational, he estimates that a person will be able to travel to the Red Planet for around $200,000.
Take a ride with Elon through his Martian fantasy. You and 99 or more other passengers board a huge crew vessel atop a massive new rocket—combined, they are about as tall as a 40-story building. Forty-two Raptor engines rumble to life below, and soon you and your fellow pilgrims are gunning through the upper atmosphere at tens of thousands of miles per hour. After depositing you in orbit, the first stage booster drops back to Earth, and flies itself back to the launchpad at Cape Canaveral. After some indeterminate refurbing, a crane attaches another spaceship on top. Except this one has no people. It's full of fuel. The rocket launches again, and releases the spaceship, which meets your spaceship in orbit and transfers its fuel load into your ship's tanks. Repeat a few times until your ship is topped off. Then, you head for Mars.