I work with Elon Musk and I know when we'll put humans on MARS with SpaceX rocket

HUMANS will touch down on Mars "within this decade", according to the boss of SpaceX.

The space-faring rocket company – founded by billionaire Elon Musk – is racing to complete a launch system that could take humans to Mars.

This Starship rocket is expected to undergo its first launch test later this year.

And is ultimately designed to ferry humans and cargo to the red planet.

Now SpaceX President and Chief Operating Officer Gwynne Shotwell has revealed we could see humans on Mars before 2030.

"We should put people on the surface of Mars within a decade," said Shotwell, speaking to CNBC.

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"I think it will be in this decade, yes."

She added: "People on the Moon, sooner."

Nasa is currently expected to return humans to the Moon in 2025 or 2026 – followed by a Mars landing by 2023.

But billionaire Musk's SpaceX is hoping to manage the feat even sooner.

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And once humans touch down on the Martian surface, Shotwell believes we'll start thinking seriously about mass colonisation of Mars.

"Oh absolutely. I think we need to get a large delivery to the surface of Mars," said Shotwell, who was recently named by Forbes as the 38th most powerful woman in the world.

"And then people will start thinking harder about it.

"And then I think within five or six years, people will see that that will be a real place to go."

Musk himself has previously hailed a Mars landing before 2030.

"SpaceX will be landing Starships on Mars well before 2030," Musk tweeted on Tuesday.

"The really hard threshold is making Mars Base Alpha self-sustaining."

At one point, the billionaire had even mooted a possible Mars touchdown by 2022 – although that deadline now seems impossible.

The early mission would involve an unmanned cargo flight to the red planet.

Blasting off

But the Starship rocket has been mired in delays – due to its enormous complexity.

The launch system was first proposed back in 2005.

But the first successful flight (to a height of 6 miles) of a Starship prototype wasn't until May 2021 – and only after four failed attempts.

It's expected that a working Starship system will complete a full launch in 2022.

This trip was previously planned for 2021.

And once it's fully operational, it will be able to deliver a mass of 330,000lbs to low-Earth orbit.

Musk hopes that Starship will be able to deliver humans to the Moon and Mars, as well as resupplying the ISS, launching satellites and moving goods and people between points on Earth at high speed.

The Tesla boss has even teased sending a million people to Mars in his lifetime – using a 1,000-strong Starship fleet.

SpaceX's Starship stands at an impressive 400ft, and is 30ft wide.

It is built mainly from stainless steel, and will be the most powerful rocket ever built.

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A major benefit of Starship is that it's fully reusable, which significantly lowers the cost of launching.

Eventually, Musk hopes that the launch system will be able to deliver loads of up to 11million pounds.

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