Just How Ambitious Are SpaceX's Mars Plans?
SpaceX wants to get to Mars by 2018. Getting there isn't hard, but other things, like landing, are.By Evan Thomas | April 30, 2016
SpaceX wants to get to Mars within two years. That's pretty ambitious, even by spaceflight standards. Private companies haven't broken out of orbit around Earth yet.
First off, it assumes SpaceX's Falcon Heavy rocket gets off the drawing board in time to launch a Mars-bound mission. The expected debut has slipped a couple times already.
Money isn't as much of a challenge. In spaceflight terms, getting something to orbit around Mars is relatively cheap. India put a probe around the red planet on its first try, with four years and about $73 million. A single Falcon 9 launch costs only about $61 million.