The Space Exploration Technologies Corporation (aka just SpaceX) is an aerospace and space transport company based in Hawthorne, California. SpaceX is perhaps the most forward thinking company out of The Big 6. Its core concept is reusable spacecraft. One big advantage of this is a significant reduction in the cost of going to space. Either for materials, satellites or humans. This could revolutionise an entire industry that used to be exclusive for governments.
Spacecraft aside, the ultimate goal for SpaceX has is to colonise other planets. Elon Musk has actually laid out a plan for this. As early as 2018 they plan to launch Red Dragon missions. Which are unmanned missions to Mars using Dragon spacecraft to allow the collection of valuable data. This relies on the success of the Falcon Heavy. Orbital testing will be from 2020 to late 2023 then Mars missions from late 2022 and every two years after that (aligned with the orbit of Mars).
I would usually be a little sceptic about such ambitious plans. However, of all the entities that can put people on Mars, SpaceX would be the most likely. The reason for this is they don’t have to have their budget and missions regulated by any governmental department. They only have to answer to Mr Musks dreams. Additionally, I have high faith in Mr Musk’s ability to revolutionise the space industry. Hell, he’s already done it to the motor industry and online sales (with PayPal). Lastly, SpaceX has already made fuel tank prototype for the transport ship, using carbon fibre and to scale (which is 12m wide). They have also developed a prototype Raptor engine. Proving as of right now, it’s not just empty talk. My predictions are only slightly altered from SpaceX’s estimates. They aim to start the ‘Red Dragon’ Missions in 2018. But this is more likely to be 2020, given the two-year Mars alignment cycle. I think this is of benefit too. They will probably overrun to 2019; then they have an extra year to test and polish, which could be valuable. If this is the case, I don’t think it would be unlikely for SpaceX to send twice as many Dragons in 2020 to make up for the delay.
Assuming all goes to plan and allowing for delays, SpaceX could be taking passengers to a small Martian colony by 2030-2034. For a price of $200,000. By 2045 after roughly 20 years since the first missions, therefore proving sustainability, and having the first humans born on another planet, I’d expect work to start on the first Martian city. The name of this city I could probably have a guess at now, ‘ELON’.