In Brief

Elon Musk: SpaceX to trial Mars rocket next year

Tech tycoon says colonising red planet may save mankind from another ‘Dark Ages’

Elon Musk says his rocket firm SpaceX may launch short test flights for its planned mission to Mars within as little as a year. 

Speaking at a question and answer session at the South by South West (SXSW) media festival in Texas, the South African-born billionaire said: “We’ll probably be able to do short flights - short up and down flights - some time in the first half of next year.”

The BBC points out, however, that the inventor is known for setting “ludicrous deadlines”. 

Acknowledging his reputation, Musk said: “Sometimes my timelines are a little, you know... People have told me my timelines historically have been optimistic.”

But he confirmed that construction is well under way for SpaceX’s Mars rocket, dubbed BFR (Big F***ing Rocket), and said he is confident the firm will meet its 2019 target for testing. 

According to Tech Crunch, Musk plans to colonise Mars in the near future in order to prepare for cataclysmic events that could threaten humanity’s existence, such as a world war. 

Musk told the audience in Texas that while he doesn’t predict a large-scale conflict is around the corner, he believes there is a chance that a new “Dark Ages” could happen “at some point”. 

“We want to make sure there’s enough of a seed of human civilisation somewhere else to bring back,” he added.

In a bizarre end to the interview, Musk was joined on stage by his brother, Kimball, and sang and danced to My Little Buttercup, after a fan asked what his favourite song was from the film The Three Amigos.

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