‘Surprise if we don’t land on Mars within five years’

Elon Musk says he has a new timeline for his big Mars project – and it’s sooner than you think.

“I’d be surprised if we don’t land on Mars in five years,” Musk told Time magazine, about SpaceX sending humanity to Mars in a story published Monday.

Musk, the 50-year-old SpaceX founder and CEO who was named Time’s Person of the Year, has big plans for the Red Planet: namely self-sustaining city with solar-powered hydroponic farms where people can live forever, 34 million miles far from Earth.

“The next really big thing is building a self-sustaining city on Mars and getting the animals and creatures on Earth there,” Musk told Time. “Like a future Noah’s ark. However, we’ll be bringing more than two – it’s a bit odd if there are only two.”

In February, space policy expert and Arizona State University professor Greg Autry told Business Insider that Musk likely won’t reach Mars until at least 2029, with or without NASA help.

Other space experts say Mars may not be able to sustain long-term human settlement. Musk himself told the nonprofit XPrize in April that some astronauts “probably die” en route to Mars.

Musk – currently the richest person in the world, with a net worth of $247 billion, according to Forbes – also has a track record of setting unrealistic timelines for moonshot technology advancements.

In 2016, Musk tweeted that Tesla’s fully self-driving cars will be on the market within about two years. In 2019, he promised 1 million Tesla “Robotaxis” by 2020. The Boring Company, which Musk founded in 2017 to build high-speed commuter tunnels in major cities, appears to have give up a project in Chicago and postpone other near Washington DC and Baltimore.

“Being on time is not my strong point”, Musk admit on an earnings call last year.

SpaceX, recently rated as 100 billion dollars, is a major player in today’s space race: In April, the company was awarded an exclusive NASA contract to send US astronauts to the moon for the first time since 1972.

But Musk told Time he’s not necessarily trying to make money off of Mars. Instead, it’s what feels “exciting,” he says, including an overall goal of “making life multi-planetary and enabling humanity to become a space-traveling civilization.” .”

SpaceX has been redefining sustainability standards in aerospace engineering since its launch in 2002, becoming first company to reuse rockets for a NASA mission in 2017. In May, it became the first private company to ferry astronauts to and from the International Space Station.

Getting there is not easy. Remarkable, SpaceX nearly went bankrupt in 2008 of Musk after a series of failed rocket launches. Last month, Musk sent employees a letter saying SpaceX could be at “real risk of bankruptcy” – but told Time on Monday that the letter was mostly a motivational tactic.

“We cannot lose our edge or become complacent,” he said.

SpaceX has other problems, too.

On Tuesday, former SpaceX engineer Ashley Kosak Written An op-ed at Lioness said she had been sexually harassed during the past 4 years at the company. She writes that “misstatement is rampant” within SpaceX and Musk “uses engineers as a resource to tap into, rather than as a team to be led.”

Late Tuesday, at least five former SpaceX employees spoke out about harassment at the company, follow to The Verge.

And last month, CNBC report that a number of longtime SpaceX employees, including two vice presidents and a senior director, had left the company following a purchase offer tied to employees’ stock purchase schedules.

A spokesperson for SpaceX did not immediately return CNBC Make It’s request for comment.

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