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18 Jun, 2014 16:43

Elon Musk plans to take people to Mars within 10 years

Elon Musk plans to take people to Mars within 10 years

​Entrepreneur and inventor Elon Musk has some travel suggestions that are out of this world. The SpaceX CEO known as the brains behind the Tesla electric car says he wants to take humans to Mars during the next decade.

Speaking to CNBC this week, the South African-born billionaire said that his main goal at this moment is to perfect technology that would make space travel possible in the not-so-distant future.

In less than 12 years’ time, he said, Musk wants to make the red planet a must-stop travel destination for interstellar tourists. Soon after, though, he hopes that Earth’s neighbor will be able to host humans for the long haul.

"I'm hopeful that the first people could be taken to Mars in 10 to 12 years, I think it's certainly possible for that to occur," he said during an interview on CNBC'S "Closing Bell" on Tuesday. "But the thing that matters long term is to have a self-sustaining city on Mars, to make life multi-planetary."

Another long term issue, Musk added, is raising the capital that’s required to make both visiting and inhabiting Mars an obtainable goal. He told CNBC that the 10-year plan he’s aiming for is already too long-term to attract hedge fund managers willing to invest, but at this rate that could soon change.

"We need to get where things are steady and predictable," Musk added. "Maybe we're close to developing the Mars vehicle, or ideally we've flown it a few times, then I think going public would make more sense."

For now, Musk has set his sights on some goals that are a little easier to obtain. Namely, he told CNBC that he thinks an achievement more within reach would be the development of an electric car battery affordable enough to fully revolutionize the automobile industry.

"I am feeling really good about being able to produce a compelling mass-market car in about three years," said Musk, but first he hopes to find a way to sell a battery for one of those vehicles for under $5,000.

Previously, Musk told Wired magazine back in 2012 that he’s been dreaming for a decade of a way to put a man on Mars, but the price-tag has proven to be problematic, to say the least.

“Since 1989, when a study estimated that a manned mission would cost $500 billion, the subject has been toxic. Politicians didn’t want a high-priced federal program like that to be used as a political weapon against them,” Musk told Wired at the time. “But the United States is a nation of explorers. America is the spirit of human exploration distilled.”

Musk made headlines earlier this week when his electric car company, Tesla, announced it won’t pursue patent lawsuits against any competing automobile makers that want to works off its patents.

“The mission of the company is to accelerate the widespread adoption of electric cars. If Tesla acts as the catalyst for other manufacturers...that will have been achieved,”Tesla spokesperson Simon Sproule told Wired.