Elon Musk Wants to Send People to Mars by 2024

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Elon Musk

The Tesla and SpaceX CEO called out 'The Martian' as only 80 percent scientifically accurate.

Colonization of Mars could happen sooner than many thought possible.

Elon Musk plans to send people to the Red Planet as soon as 2024 with a planned arrival date of sometime in 2025.

Musk’s SpaceX has sent a rocket to the International Space Station, but has yet to reach Mars. The company plans to send a Dragon capsule to Mars in 2018 and launch frequent missions there every 26 months.

But the colonization of the planet, a long-term goal of Musk’s, got the SpaceX and Tesla CEO especially worked up during a lengthy talk onstage at Recode’s Code Conference in Rancho Palos Verdes, Calif., on Wednesday evening.

When asked about previous comments that he would like to die on Mars, Musk clarified: “If you’re going to choose a place to die, then Mars is probably not a bad choice. It’s not some sort of Martian death wish.”

Musk himself has never been to space. The billionaire said he would like to go into orbit in the next four or five years.

But don’t expect life on Mars to look much like Matt Damon blockbuster The Martian. Although the book that the movie was based on has been praised for its accuracy, Musk said the pic was about 80 percent scientifically correct, but “did connect to some improbable events.” His issue? “You can’t take off from Mars on an unguided rocket and prick your finger on a space suit and navigate to a space ship. It’s not impossible, but extremely unlikely.”

When asked about whether Damon could beat the odds, Musk joked that he does have “some mad skills.”

Musk will present the architecture for the colonization of Mars later this year, but he did tease a bit about his plans. When asked how the government will run, he joked that he’d already been declared “King of Mars” before answering that he envisions a direct democracy instead of a representative government. He added that it should be harder to add laws than to get rid of them, explaining that laws should “come with a built-in sunset provision.”

Yet for all he’s thought about politics on Mars, Musk demurred on questions about the current state of politics in the U.S. and the upcoming presidential election. He would say only that he’s glad the founding fathers “saw fit that the president was captain of a large ship with a small rudder. There’s a limit to how much harm you can do.”

When pressed, Musk admitted, “I don’t think it’s the finest moment in our democracy.” But he declined to discuss who he would be supporting at the polls in November. “I’m not sure how much influence I can have as one person on the outcome,” he explained. “I think if I could make a difference, I would probably do something.”

Musk, who served as CEO of PayPal before taking on electric cars and rockets, is known for his complex theories on the future of technology and humankind. But his late-night talk at Code, which was delayed after his plane had trouble landing, was especially cerebral, though it still managed to prompt laughs from the audience (at least from those who hadn't dozed off in their seats).

Musk opened the talk with a lengthy explanation of why it’s a milestone to launch a rocket and land it back on a barge in the middle of the ocean. Boiling it down for the audience, he eventually compared it to trying to save a burning wad of cash flying through the sky.

Musk also touched on Tesla, revealing that he considers Apple a future competitor once its nascent car-building plans ramp up. He also said that Apple should have started on its electric vehicle plans much earlier and predicted the iPhone maker wouldn’t go into production until 2020.

Meanwhile, the father of five didn’t want audience to forget that he can sometimes be a regular dad, too. Musk said he often plays video games with his kids. And last Monday he took them to The Wizarding World of Harry Potter at Universal Studios. “I loved the Butterbeer,” he exclaimed.