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Elon Musk held a surprise question and answer session at the South by Southwest Festival in Austin, Texas on Sunday. The founder of both Tesla and SpaceX said that his timeline for sending a space vehicle to Mars could mark its first milestone early next year. The privately-funded venture, announced in September 2017, aims to send a cargo mission to Mars by 2022. The ultimate objective is to plant the seeds to put a human colony on the Red Planet. Musk told SXSW attendees that “we are building the first Mars, or interplanetary ship, and I think well be able to short trips, flights by first half of next year,” according to CNBC. He did make a joke about how his timelines have been off before. SpaceX’s BFR rocket system is expected to have capabilities for interplanetary travel, plus, Musk wants them all to be fully reusable. A flight will cost less than the initial Falcon 1 flights, which Musk puts in the $5 to $6 million range.
“The biggest thing that would be helpful is just general support and encouragement and goodwill,” Musk said at SXSW, according to CNBC. “I think once we build it we’ll have a point of proof something that other companies and countries can go and do. They certainly don’t think it’s possible, but if we do they’ll up their game.”Read the full story at CNBC