Gwynne Shotwell, the President and Chief Operating Officer of SpaceX, was recently asked when she believes her firm would be able to take humans to Mars in a recent interview with CNBC. Founder and CEO Elon Musk has said that this is his ultimate aim, and the rocketry behemoth has been working toward it since its inception.
“Within a decade, we should be able to land humans on the surface of Mars.” The answer from Shotwell was, “I believe it will happen within this decade.” Ms. Musk is optimistic that SpaceX will be able to complete its first human Mars landing before the end of the decade. “We’ll put people on the moon sooner rather than later.”
When Shotwell mentioned the moon, he was alluding to NASA’s intentions to return personnel to the lunar surface, a mission for which the American space agency granted a $2.89 billion USD contract to SpaceX last year. This year, NASA selected SpaceX for a second journey to the moon as part of its Artemis program, which was announced in March. Regarding Mars, SpaceX has been working on the development of their Starship spaceship, which will be used to transport personnel and goods to the planet’s surface.
In order for Starship to make its maiden orbital trip, the business must get certification from the United States Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), but the government watchdog has repeatedly postponed its environmental study of the intended launch. We reported last week that the FAA’s Final Programmatic Environmental Assessment (PEA) for SpaceX’s scheduled Starship flight had been postponed until May 31 due to a backlog of work.
“I believe we need to get a significant delivery on the surface of Mars before people start thinking about it more seriously,” Shotwell said. “And then, I believe that after five or six years, people will recognize that this is a legitimate destination.” The company SpaceX aims to have whole fleets of Starships continually flying back and forth between Earth and Mars when the time comes for human settlement of the planet’s moon Mars. Musk previously said that SpaceX will construct 1,000 Starships for the Mars mission, which will take place in December 2020.