Speaking on the audio-only Clubhouse app on Sunday, the SpaceX founder told the Good Times Show his goal was to establish a self-sustaining Martian civilisation.
The ambitious deadline gives him five and a half years to get the massive Starship spacecraft off the ground – but there is a long way to go as the massive 160ft rocket is still at the prototype stage – with a second high-altitude test flight due soon.
It currently takes at least six months to get to the planet, but Musk believes that could be down to as little as a month, with flights operating every two years.
He said the first colony will be a tiny, dangerous, ‘frontier-like’ environment as they begin to establish propellant manufacturing, food production and power plants.
NASA plans to put the first humans on Mars by 2033 as part of its Artemis program that will see the next man and first woman land on the Moon in 2024.
Although Musk hopes to achieve his goal of landing humans on the Red Planet by 2026, he was realistic and said it isn’t a hard deadline due to the technical hurdles.
Musk says there are a number of technological advances that need to be made between now and 2026 before humans can travel to Mars on Starship.
These include ensuring Starship is fully reusable and that it can reach orbit where it is able to refuel ready for the long six month trip to Mars.
As part of the 90 minute clubhouse conversation, Musk opined on a range of subjects from the GameStop share saga, to his human implant company Neuralink.
Read more: Daily Mail