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SpaceX could send people to Mars in 2024, Elon Musk says

SpaceX could send people to Mars in 2024, Elon Musk says
Elon Musk, shown in 2014, is to speak Tuesday at a conference in Mexico about SpaceX’s effort to one day colonize Mars. (Jae C. Hong / Associated Press)

SpaceX Chief Executive Elon Musk is predicting that his company could launch people to Mars in less than a decade.

Speaking at Code Conference on Wednesday in Rancho Palos Verdes, Musk said that if all goes according to plan, SpaceX could send people to Mars in 2024, with arrival at the planet in 2025.

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He said he would give more details of the company's "architecture for Mars colonization" in September at a global space conference.

"What really matters is being able to transport large numbers of people and ultimately millions of tons of cargo to Mars," Musk said. "That's what's necessary in order to create a ... growing city on Mars."

Musk also said he would probably visit space himself in four or five years, though he doesn't plan to leave the Earth's orbit during that trip.

In April, SpaceX — which is based in Hawthorne and whose full name is Space Exploration Technologies Corp. — said it planned to send an unmanned Dragon Version 2 spacecraft to Mars as soon as 2018.

That mission would demonstrate a way to land large payloads on Mars without parachutes or other aerodynamic decelerators, the company said at the time.

NASA has agreed to provide technical support for the Red Dragon Mars mission, which could include help with mission design and tracking or data transmission from deep space. The agency is interested in the entry, descent and landing data from the mission.

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