Sometime in the years between the close of the shuttle program and the modern transition to private spaceflight, the Space Race took on a new, specific goal. Mars. Getting to the Red Planet—first, and, preferably, only—became the ultimate goal in this era of exploration.
Mars Exploration in 2024
One of the biggest players in the current game is Elon Musk, founder and CEO of SpaceX, which has shown remarkable success in its series of tests and missions. Now, Musk has set a deadline for him and his competitors.
Speaking at a recent Code Conference, Musk said: “If things go according to plan, we should be able to – we should be able to – launch people in 2024…that’s the game plan.”
Musk added his people are working on an architectural plan for a Mars colony, which he teased he would unveil at a conference in September.
Musk knows how to keep the media interested, with quotable sound bites and teaser timelines, trickling out little bits of information at a time. One of his most famous quips: “I’d like to die on Mars. Just not on impact.”
Musk Prepares for Success
But Musk’s appeal is about much more than flash and clever one-liners. His company recently became the first to successfully land a reusable rocket booster not once but twice. Musk has said he plans to re-launch that rocket sometime this year. Then, in two years, SpaceX will launch a Dragon2 spacecraft to Mars. This trip won’t be manned. It’s a supply run delivering materials colonists would need once they send people. The idea to supply a colony before sending humans is the sort of thinking that has Musk ahead in this race.
Make no mistake, SpaceX might be in the lead, but it is a race. Other players are in the game, working tirelessly to close the gap in success and technology. That said, tech alone won’t help a private company win this race. They need to secure their place in the public consciousness. Remember the people who explored the West before Lewis and Clark? Well, neither does anyone else.
Roman Temkin is an entrepreneur in NYC.