Sept. 29 (UPI) -- SpaceX CEO Elon Musk outlined plans Friday to begin cargo flights to Mars by 2022 and human landings there two years later -- just seven years from now.
Musk told the International Aeronautical Congress in Adelaide, Australia, Friday that his company is preparing a fleet of reusable rockets and a spacecraft with accommodations for up to 100 people. His plans include unmanned missions to Mars in five years and manned space flights by 2024 by scaling up the current SpaceX Flacon 9 rockets, the not-yet-flown Falcon Heavy rocket and the Dragon spacecraft for cargo and crew.
The new project is called BFR -- an acronym SpaceX says stands for "Big Friggin' Rocket."
In tests so far, 12 consecutive Falcon 9 rockets have successfully been fired and landed, demonstrating the cost savings of a first-stage rocket can be reused.
The company currently has 70 satellite launch orders valued at $10 billion, 20 NASA International Space Station resupply contracts worth $2 billion and a $2.6 billion contract to build a piloted Dragon capsule for carrying personnel to and from the International Space Station, CBS News reported.
BFR can also be used to launch large satellites, and could also be employed in lower-scale projects. Shuttling passengers or cargo from New York City to Shanghai or London, for example, would be about a half-hour trip, Musk said.
The CEO said downsizing the current rocket/cargo combination, called the Interplanetary Transport System and using its versatility for a variety of projects, is the key to its financial feasibility.
"If we could do that, then all the resources that are used for Falcon 9, Heavy and Dragon can be applied to this system. That's really fundamental. We believe that we can do this with the revenue we receive for launching satellites and for servicing the space station," Musk told the conference.