SpaceX to launch first Starship rocket to Mars in this year, reveals CEO Elon Musk

Billionaire business and SpaceX owner Elon Musk has announced that his company will launch its first uncrewed mission to Mars in 2024.

"I think we have a fighting chance of making that second Mars transfer window," Space.com quoted Elon Musk as saying. Musk made the statement during a discussion at the International Mars Society Convention.

It is to be noted that China and the United Arab Emirates (UAE) launched missions to Mars in July 2020 and the next "window" to launch a mission to Red Planet will open in 2022.

Musk also said that SpaceX "would maybe have a shot of sending or trying to send something to Mars in three years," if the mission timings didn't depend on the "orbital mechanics that call for Mars launches every 26 months".

"Earth and Mars won't be in the best position...But the window is four years away, because of them being in different parts of the solar system," he said.

SpaceX is gearing up to launch its first uncrewed mission to Mars on its Starship rocket. Starship is a "reusable rocket-and-spacecraft combo" which is being developed at the company's South Texas facility, the report said.

The report added, "SpaceX is also planning to use Starship for missions to the Moon starting in 2022, as well as point-to-point trips around the Earth."

Elon Musk has believed that human beings "need to establish a permanent and self-sustaining presence on Mars to ensure "the continuance of consciousness as we know it"" - just in case, some nuclear war or asteroid strike leave Earth uninhabitable, the report said.

However, Musk's SpaceX is not planning to build a base on the Red Planet.

"As a transportation company, its only goal is to ferry cargo [and humans] to and from the red planet, facilitating the development of someone else's Mars base," the report said.

SpaceX launched two test flights of Starship prototypes, called SN5 and SN6, in 2020. "Those flights reached an altitude of 500 feet (150 meters)," SpaceX said.