SpaceX COO and President Shotwell Says There Will Be Humans on Mars by 2032 and Maybe 2030

SpaceX President & COO Gwynne Shotwell says SpaceX needs to put a large unmanned payload on Mars to get people serious about Mars. SpaceX still wants to put people on the surface of Mars by 2032 and hopefully by 2030.

A large unmanned mission would need to be by 2024 or 2026 to hit this schedule for the manned missions. She expects the manned missions would be 5-6 years after the unmanned.

She also said SpaceX would send people to the moon sooner than the humans to Mars.

19 thoughts on “SpaceX COO and President Shotwell Says There Will Be Humans on Mars by 2032 and Maybe 2030”

  1. The Mars launch windows are Q4 2028 – Q1 2029 and Q1 2031 (every 780 days). Including the trip time, the date of mars landing should be approx in 2029 or 2031.

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  2. There was interesting NASA work with I think Masten for lunar landing, where they would seed the rocket exhaust with meltable pellets, so you basically plaster the ground with a melt-on landing pad. Might be able to do the same on Mars?

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  3. Pretty sure that a starship can eject a well designed landing pad onto Mars Surface and it can fit in if the starship if it does not land itself. The landing pad will be able to land, position and balance itself on the surface of Mars.

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  4. Elon's projections are always best case estimates, but to be fair, the original estimates didn't factor in the bureaucracy being weaponized against him. He was originally thinking purely in terms of technological obstacles, not political.

    I think he'd have probably at least have made orbit by late last year otherwise; He didn't need the catching system to be working, he was planning on losing both parts of the stack on the first test. And the Starship would probably be more economical than the Falcon even operating with the upper stage in expendable mode.

    The work he's done while the bureaucrats were slow walking things have improved systems a lot, mind you. But they have kept him from testing things that really need testing.

    In retrospect he probably shouldn't have relied so much on Boca Chica, putting more effort into his site at the Cape, and in getting those off shore platforms working, might have been a good idea.

    They're expecting to have their site at the Cape ready for launches this year, and the bureaucrats have a lot less leverage to obstruct things there.

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  5. My suggestion is that they outfit a couple of Starships as though they were going to Mars, except with more medical monitoring instrumentation and less pioneering gear, and put them in orbit connected by a tether, so that they can be a partial gravity research lab. (By adjusting the fuel balance between them, you could have one at lunar gravity, and one at Martian, if desired.)

    This gives you a long duration test of all the Starship systems, AND allows settling the medical issues. And the Starships would still be usable afterwards.

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  6. That sort of thing would certainly work for landing on the Moon, but all the plans for Mars involve using an aerobraking maneuver, which requires the Starship to retain its nice, aerodynamic form. So it would be a no-go for Mars.

    Remote sensing is pretty good these days, no reason you can't identify a flat patch of rock large enough for the first landing, and include automated bulldozers for preparing subsequent landing spots.

    Oh, and I believe that they've actually proposed installing storage space for heavy cargo down near the bottom, nestled in the curve of the bottom of the tank, to improve the weight balance.

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  7. Yes, the case for Mars landing without any prepared landing pad is far from closed.

    If the first Mars landing essays end up in fiascos, they will need to think about these kinds of solutions with much better stability.

    After they can land a helluva spaceship made of several Starships, then they can build a nice landing pad for others to land.

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  8. I think too much testing and study is not so good. People were on Moon about 50 years ago man! 50 years ago! Lives should be protected, but nevertheless you can't progress if you are afraid to cross the street and hide in a house all the time. Some risks have to be taken and some people are prepared to take them and go on Mars.
    I guess one the reasons for TeslaBot could be less hassle from regulations and so,.. So they can send TeslaBot on Mars first and after the robots humans,… In 4 year TeslaBot should be refined enough to go on a such mission.

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  9. This is much more realistic than the prediction from only few years ago of manned flights to Mars this year. India current pace, Reaching orbit may come this year manned flights in two more years, learning to refuel in space two more, mastering landing on Mars four more, having the infrastructure ready to fuel on Mars four more, that makes it 2034.

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  10. Given there is no landing pad on Mars, and a loaded Starship will be top-heavy, what I would do is have 3 starships attached to each other using 40-foot struts, making a large stable tripod. This could be assembled in an automated way in Earth orbit, perhaps. But I think a 4th ship with astronauts would be my choice to assemble it to keep weight and complexity down. They can attach everything on an EVA, then return to Earth. The tripod rocket can then go and land on Mars 18 months or whatever later. Ideally, robots within the ships would then prepare a large landing pad area for subsequent landings. It would take more flights to refuel it in earth orbit, than with one Starship, obviously, but the chances of toppling on Mars should be far lower.
    Another advantage of the tripod is that unloading is also less risky. An arm can swing a heavy object away from a Starship, out of the hold, perhaps to the center of the tripod, and lower it without dangerously moving the center of mass of a balancing single Starship. And I suspect it makes sense to have some heavy equipment initially for preparing the site for future construction and landing pad facilities.

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  11. When I have a home project, I usually think it’s going to take less than a weekend and only one trip to Home Depot. I’m never right, but I do eventually get it done. Estimates are hard, that’s why they call them estimates.

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  12. I'm also a bit impatient and growing weary of Elon's time. But I do believe in Shotwell's projections,

    Space is hard and things go at their own pace, despite the best intentions.

    And if it wasn't for them, we would be in an even worse shape, really.

    NASA et all only had PowerPoint slides, and would continue doing so if something external didn't arrive to shake the establishment.

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  13. "She also said SpaceX would send people to the moon sooner than the humans to Mars."

    Good to know they aren't idiots.
    We know that months at zero gee is bad for human health. It would be nice to have some data on the effects of gravity between zero & 9.8 m/s^2 before we send people on trips that will keep them at such in-between gravity for well over a year.
    Aside from having people on a moon base for months, we might want to have the 1st rotating space habitat give Martian level gravity.

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  14. First they targeted 2024, later 2029 and now 2030, 2032,… In reality perhaps 2040?
    They are becoming like Nasa and Boeing. Tweeter and social media are more important now.

    Respect to Musk and what he is doing. Too bad they won't do it faster as they meant to.

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