Elon Musk’s ambition knows no limits, as his recent SpaceX launches have shown. The SpaceX founder has slashed the cost of space travel with its revolutionary reusable rocket technology. And the billionaire has now revealed even bigger designs – a manned moon base and the eventual exploration of Mars.
The SpaceX Crew Dragon passenger spacecraft launched this Saturday and successfully docked autonomously with the ISS some 26 hours later.
If all goes well, two astronauts will fly on board the spacecraft to the ISS this summer – but Elon Musk’s ambitions extend beyond the ISS.
Elon Musk’s grand plan involves colonising alien worlds such as Mars, believed to be the main reason he set up SpaceX in 2002.
Musk admitted last month he wanted to get to the Moon “as fast as possible.”
READ MORE: Watch SpaceX Dragon capsule dock with ISS
The SpaceX CEO said: “We should have a base on the moon, like a permanently occupied human base on the moon, and then send people to Mars,”
“Maybe there is something beyond the space station, but we will see.”
Crew Dragon, which can hold a maximum of seven people, isn’t built for such ambitious exploration work.
But a prototype of the vehicle that could fulfil that dream has already been built, a sleek, stainless-steel rocket called Starship.
Musk has said a small-scale “hopper” prototype of Starship might begin making brief test flights within Earth’s atmosphere in the coming weeks.
And if all goes according to plan, Starship and Super Heavy will launch blast passengers on a round-the-moon mission in 2023 and perhaps send the first people toward Mars a few years later.
Musk envisions Starship and Super Heavy eventually carrying all of SpaceX’s load, doing everything from launching satellites and crewed Red Planet missions to cleaning up space junk and ferrying people on “point-to-point” trips around Earth.
But it is believed the task of blasting Starship to the Moon will prove a tricky technological feat.
Walt Engelund, director of Space Technology and Exploration Directorate at NASA, admitted: “It won’t be easy for us or SpaceX.”
But Elon Musk is keeping his feet on the ground, for now.
“We have got to focus on getting the Crew Dragon missions right, for sure.
“That’s the priority,” Musk admitted at Crew Dragon’s press event.
“But then, after that, maybe something beyond low-Earth orbit.”