Elon Musk doesn't just want to populate Mars with rich people

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It's no secret that Musk envisions a future in which humans have branched out from their Earth-bound homes, but taking humans to Mars is a mission still years away. "I can tell you what I know currently is the case is that we are building the first ship, the first Mars interplanetary ship right now", Musk told a crowd during a surprise appearance at the SXSW Conference in Austin, Texas, on Sunday. There is, he has warned anyone interested in going, "a good chance you'll die".

Referencing his inspiration for pursuing space exploration, Musk cited Russian rocket scientist Konstantin Tsiolkovsky who said, "Earth is the cradle of civilization...but we can't stay in the cradle forever".

Musk has estimated a BFR flight will cost between $5 to $6 million range and he hopes if BFR launches, others will believe Mars travel is possible and companies will follow suit. The ship will be fully reusable, and he hadn't shared how long the flights would be. "I think we should be able to carry out very short flights sometime in the first half of next year".

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His latest pronouncement on sending people as opposed to things to Mars is different.

Elon Musk, the founder and CEO of SpaceX, says the company could begin testing a spacecraft created to travel to Mars and return to Earth as soon as 2019.

"They now don't think it's possible so that if we show them that it is, then I think that they will up their game and they will build interplanetary transport vehicles, as well".

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While getting to Mars by the end of next year is certainly a lofty goal as far as manned space flights are concerned, SpaceX is already laying the groundwork for their eventual manned trips.

SpaceX launched the world's most powerful rocket, the Falcon Heavy, last month, sending Musk's red Tesla Roadster vehicle toward an orbit near Mars. How much it will cost to travel to Mars is not yet known, but according to Musk a flight should cost less than a flight with the Falcon 1, the first rocket of the Falcon series.

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