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Elon Musk projects Mars spaceship will be ready for short trips by first half of 2019

CNBC logo CNBC 3/11/2018 Michelle Castillo

Elon Musk, founder of SpaceX and Tesla.© CNBC Elon Musk, founder of SpaceX and Tesla.

Tesla and SpaceX founder Elon Musk told an audience at South by Southwest that his timeline for sending a space vehicle to Mars could mark its first milestone early next year.

The privately-funded venture, announced in September 2017, aims to send a cargo mission to the Red Planet by 2022. SpaceX's ultimate objective is to plant the seeds to put a human colony on Mars.

Musk held a surprise question and answer session at the annual technology and culture festival in Austin, Texas on Sunday. The billionaire told attendees that "we are building the first Mars, or interplanetary ship, and I think well be able to short trips, flights by first half of next year."

Mindful of elevating expectations too high, Musk hedged a bit. "Although sometimes, my timelines are a little, you know..." he said to laughter.

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