Elon Musk gave space fans an outline of plans for “Starship,” the next-generation vehicle his Space Exploration Technologies expects to use to eventually take humans to Mars.
The goal is to make “space travel like air travel,” Musk said on stage Saturday during a highly technical presentation from the company’s Boca Chica test site near Brownsville, Texas. “We’re really right on the cusp of what’s physically possible.”
Closely-held SpaceX currently flies its workhorse Falcon 9 and more powerful Falcon Heavy rockets for customers that include NASA, commercial satellite operators and the US military. NASA has contracted with Boeing and SpaceX to ferry American astronauts to the International Space Station through what’s known as the Commercial Crew Program, but the timeline for the program has repeatedly slipped, and it appears unlikely that either company will fly the first astronauts this year.
During a question and answer session with space journalists, Musk responded to NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine’s Friday tweet that said “Commercial Crew is years behind schedule.” Bridenstine also said the agency expects the same level of enthusiasm seen for SpaceX as on “the investments of the American taxpayer.”