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Elon Musk: We'll have people on Mars by 2025

The SpaceX chief teases a "very big rocket" that would take off in 2024 and says he wants to send people every 26 months.

Tesla CEO Elon Musk at the Code conference on Wednesday.
Asa Mathat for Vox Media

Elon Musk's vision of sending people to Mars is alive and well.

The CEO of both SpaceX and Tesla Motors said he plans to launch a rocket to Mars by 2024, with arrival on the Red Planet occurring a year later. His intent is to send people to Mars roughly every 26 months with fresh supplies.

"That's what it takes to sustain a civilization," Musk said Wednesday night at Recode's Code conference in Rancho Palos Verdes, California.

His mission to Mars would be the culmination of the investment he's put into off-Earth travel through his SpaceX venture, which is already running supply missions to the International Space Station and hard at work on reusable rockets.

Musk is no stranger to big concepts, from upending the automotive industry with his slick line of electric vehicles to his idea for a "Hyperloop," or super-fast form of transportation that other companies are scrambling to turn into reality. Last year, he floated the idea of dropping nuclear bombs on Mars to kick-start the terraforming process by pumping greenhouse gases into the atmosphere.

Yet his goal of getting people to Mars may be his most ambitious yet.

"It's really being a multiplanet species and having civilization extend to other planets beyond the solar system," he said.

But there are still plenty of steps before that happens. Later this year, SpaceX plans to launch its Falcon heavy rocket, intended to deliver commercial satellites into orbit. By 2018, the venture will launch Dragon 2, which is supposed to link up with the space station, Musk said.

With his fixation on space, does Musk want to move on from the blue marble we call home?

"Why would we abandon Earth? It's very nice here," he said.