'Good chance you will die': Elon Musk on Mars mission and other space travel updates
Cape Town - SpaceX founder was very optimistic about Mars test flights of his BFR rocket next year at South by Southwest (SXSW) conference.
He does, however, say that those on their way to Mars will have to face a high possibility of death on the desolate planet.
"It’s difficult, dangerous, [there’s a] good chance you will die, excitement for those who survive, that kind of thing," says Musk. "There's not that many people that would go in the beginning, because all those things I said are true. But there will be some who will, for whom excitement of frontier and exploration exceeds the danger."
He believes that humanity needs a base off Earth that's farther than the moon to ensure our species' survival in case of a disaster like a third world war or the doomsday version of Terminator. Musk has long been critical of artificial intelligence and the lack of oversight of the technology.
He's very optimistic about his BFR spaceships for Mars being able to take their first test flights in the first half of 2019 but admits that his timeline is very optimistic. The plans, for now, is to send cargo with the BFR to Mars by 2022, with the crewed mission by 2024.
He also gave an update on Tesla's self-driving cars, which he believes will be three times safer than a human driver and that the self-driving cars will start to take over the industry in about a year's time.
SpaceX recently sent the Falcon Heavy on its maiden voyage into space. It is said to be "a historic test flight that also sent a car toward Mars", with the rocket's three first-stage boosters expected to return to Earth and land.
However, Musk confirmed that the rocket's core booster crashed. According to Space.com, two side boosters landed successfully on twin pads at the nearby Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, but the centre core crashed and burned.
You can watch the whole talk below:
Other updates on space travel
Now, he is pushing the boundaries of travel on Earth even further and told Bloomberg Television that he hopes that supersonic travel will make a comeback in the next few years, allowing people to travel "around the world in next to no time" and in a "relatively environmentally friendly way".
Branson announced earlier that his Virgin Galactic ship may take off later this year, with some millionaires and celebrities having already bought seats on the trip.
Another tech tycoon Jeff Bezos, currently the richest man in the world, also has his own aerospace company which has been eyeing a 2019 launch of its reusable rockets. Bezos claims he's putting a billion dollars of his own money into the company every year to expand the space exploration industry.
According to Bloomberg, he also wants to make it cheaper for startups to get into the space business, and make space travel accessible to the world.
Another billionaire is more focused on space accommodation than on how to get there. Hotel mogul Robert Bigelow has tasked his company with creating fully autonomous standalone space stations that will be bigger than the International Space Station.
According to Forbes, the plan is to lease some of the space to governments looking to conduct space experiments, but he'll also be opening it up to the commercial space tourism sector for those who really really want a room with a view.
Bigelow's timeline is looking at 2021 to have this space hotel up and running, and the cost of a bed is estimated to be in the low eight figures range.
And then a rather extraordinary take on the outer space escape is the one offered by World View. Using a high-tech balloon, those who opt to try it out will find themselves soaring above the dizzy heights along with the Arizona-based aeronauts World View - in a special helium-filled device. It has an attached passenger capsule that allows you to soar to about 32 kilometres above the surface of the planet, where you'll spend a total of about six hours cruising above altitude, checking out the globe's curvature. This option might be unusual but it is by no means cheap - prices start at US$75,00 per person.
The company that got our very own Mark Shuttleworth into space has lost a bit of steam over the years, with their plans for circumlunar missions around the moon having been postponed to the early 2020s with no precise date, with a $100 million price tag. Their last private astronaut in space was in 2009, with singer Sarah Brightman pulling out of her planned mission in 2015.