Mars Ship to Test Flights Next Year, Says Elon Musk

Reuters/Lucy NicholsonTesla Motors Inc CEO Elon Musk unveils a new all-wheel-drive version of the Model S car in Hawthorne, California.

SpaceX founder Elon Musk reveals its Mars-intended rocket may be able to launch by 2019 but joked that it is so dangerous that joining it could be deadly.

Talking to the audience of South by Southwest Festival in Austin, Texas on Sunday, Musk said he is hoping a Big Falcon Rocket (BFR) to Mars would be the company's first milestone early next year. "We are building the first Mars, or interplanetary ship, and I think we'll be able to do short trips, flights by first half of next year," he told the crowd.

The 46-year-old business magnate, however, admitted that his announcement could be wrong. "My timelines are a little, you know..." he said, to the crowd's laughter. SpaceX has been known for announcing a launch and taking it back later on to ensure that its rockets work as planned.

Musk announced back in September 2017 that SpaceX aims to send a cargo mission to Mars by 2022. Its main objective is to plant seeds so that one day a human colony can start a new life in the Red Planet.

The BFR launching in 2019 is expected to be capable of interplanetary travel. Musk said the flight will cost less than the initial Falcon 1 launch, which cost around $5 to $6 million. It should also be fully reusable.

Although Musk is very positive about a 2019 BFR launch, he clarifies that it could be dangerous for any human interested in joining the trip. "It's difficult, dangerous, [there's a] good chance you will die, excitement for those who survive, that kind of thing," he joked.

Musk also admitted that he understands why people are doubtful about building a life in Mars. He is hoping that once he successfully launches a rocket to the Red Planet, it will prove that interplanetary travel is possible.

"I think once we build it we'll have a point of proof something that other companies and countries can go and do," he explained, adding, "They certainly don't think it's possible, but if we do they'll up their game."