During a recent interview with CNBC, SpaceX President and COO, Gwynne Shotwell, was asked when she thinks her company will be able to transport people to Mars. This is the goal of SpaceX founder and CEO Elon Musk, and one that the rocketry giant has been working towards ever since it was created.
“We should put people on the surface of Mars […] within a decade. I think it would be within this decade,” replied Shotwell. She seems hopeful that SpaceX will be able to achieve its first manned Mars landing sometime before the end of this decade. “People on the moon, sooner.”
When talking about the moon, Shotwell was referring to NASA’s plans to put astronauts back on the moon, a mission for which the American space agency awarded a $2.89 billion USD contract to SpaceX last year.
In March of this year, NASA picked SpaceX for another mission to the moon under its Artemis program.
As for Mars, SpaceX has been developing its Starship spacecraft specifically to carry humans and cargo to the surface of the Red Planet. The company has been waiting on approval from the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) for the first orbital flight of Starship, but the government watchdog has repeatedly delayed its environmental review of the proposed launch.
Last week, we reported that the FAA’s Final Programmatic Environmental Assessment (PEA) for SpaceX’s planned Starship launch had been delayed to May 31.
“I think we need to get a large delivery to the surface of Mars, and then people will start thinking harder about it,” added Shotwell. “And then, I think within five or six years people will see that that will be a real place to go.”
SpaceX plans to have entire fleets of Starships constantly moving back and forth between Earth and Mars when it finally comes time to colonize the Red Planet. Back in December 2020, Musk said SpaceX will build 1,000 Starships for the Mars mission.
Watch the full segment on SpaceX’s Mars plans from Shotwell’s interview below:
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