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SpaceX to Mars: Boca Chica may figure in Martian plans

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Prior to his presentation, Musk's company released a video detailing designs for the rocket and spaceship that they hope carries astronauts to the Red Planet. Or maybe they haven't worked out how to carry enough fuel for the return trip as well? But that's the goal Elon Musk has always had for SpaceX, the upstart space company that has pulled off a series of unlikely triumphs since he founded it 14 years ago.

The entire project would cost much more and would probably require a public-private partnership, Musk said.

Musk: "It has to be fun or exciting".

Reducing cost would be another key hurdle to establishing a human civilization on Mars, he said before an overflow crowd at an expo center with a few thousand seats. "So I really don't have any other motivation for personally accumulating assets except to be able to make the biggest contribution I can to making life multi-planetary", said the tech billionaire.

The National Aeronautics and Space Administration's heavy-lift Space Launch System rocket, expected to cost US$7 billion through its first test flight, is now slated for launch in 2018.

Musk envisions 100 to 200 people per spacecraft, with the trip taking between 80 and 150 days, depending on the time of the year.

The spacecraft would have a restaurant, cabins, zero-gravity games and movies.

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But for those first intrepid explorers - who Musk has repeatedly compared to America's early colonists - the trip will be a perilous one. "You'll have a great time".

Will Musk be the first man on Mars?

. "[But] If you're going to choose a place to die, then Mars is not a bad choice". But, it's clear by Musk's determination to colonize, along with his confidence in his company's plan, that becoming an interplanetary is truly the new reality for humanity, not to mention the only way we will survive as a species post-Earth.

No date is set for the first flight, but Musk said he wanted to send the first manned mission to Mars by 2024 and planned to start delivering supplies to the Red Planet as soon as 2018.

"You can't create a self-sustaining civilization on Mars if the ticket price is $10 billion per person".

NASA Administrator Charles Bolden said on Monday it likely will continue its Space Launch System rocket program even if commercial interplanetary transportation systems are available. But Zaphod got away with stealing the Heart of Gold, so maybe Musk can pull of this Mars thing.

Upon arriving at the Red Planet, the spaceship fires engines and deploys landing legs to touch down, similar to how SpaceX has landed six Falcon 9 rocket boosters.

Last week, SpaceX said a preliminary investigation found that a "large breach" occurred in the helium system of the rocket's second-stage liquid oxygen tank, and that it was looking into "all plausible causes".

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