Elon Musk says SpaceX plans to send its first crewed mission to Mars in just 4 years. SpaceX's founder Elon Musk said that he's "highly confident" that the company will launch astronauts toward the Red Planet in 2026. He added that the launch could possibly come as early as 2024. Musk plans for the astronauts include staying on Mars, not just travelling there. The starship will need 6 months to reach Mars which means astronauts inside the starship will be exposed to cosmic radiation. Also, it is not clear yet how astronauts will have enough food, supplies and fuel before returning back to Earth.
Musk said they will try to send an uncrewed vehicle to Mars in 2 years. The two-year target date is related to orbital dynamics. Earth and Mars align once every 26 months in a way that is favorable for interplanetary launches. This mission's starship is 50 meters (165 foot) tall. It will be launched from Earth atop a rocket known as "Super Heavy". The company built both vehicles to be reusable in future missions. The starship will fly from Earth orbit to Mars and will be back to fly back again to Earth many times.
It will launch itself off on the way back without any rockets due to the weaker gravity on the red planet. SpaceX teamed up with NASA on several other projects. But these do not include a crewed mission to Mars in 2024. They are working on a customized lunar shuttle to travel between the moon's orbit and surface. NASA's Artemis program wants to put people on the moon.
The US agency's plans for 2024 include sending the first woman to the Moon. NASA's Artemis mission will be humanity's return to the surface of the moon. Astronauts will land on the lunar South Pole. After launching, they will travel about 386,000 kilometers (240,000 miles) to lunar orbit. The Artemis program will establish a sustained human presence on and around the Moon by 2028.