The CEO of SpaceX Elon Musk has deepened the timing and requirements of vehicles not only to achieve Mars, but to create one sustainable basis on the Red Planet that can become a real one city, also supporting the future local population. This is the long-term vision for Musk: make humans an interplanetary species. Musk also spoke about timing and costs, responding to fans on Twitter, with solutions that perhaps could be too ambitious.
Musk said the cost of launching for Mars could cost "only" $ 2 million per Starship flight and the ultimate goal should be to create a "self-sufficient city on Mars". To make that city a reality, he added, SpaceX will have to build and fly around 1000 Starship according to his estimates, which will have to transport goods, infrastructure and crew to Mars over the course of about 20 years, since the planetary alignment allows a flight to Mars realistically feasible only once every two years.
Musk also talked about the short-term potential of Starship, including how much payload the huge ship will provide for terrestrial orbital transport. The Starship design aims to maximize reuse, in fact the SpaceX CEO stated that he could ideally fly up to three times a day. This is equivalent to more than 1000 flights a year for each ship, which means that if SpaceX will succeed in producing at least 100 Starships in the future it may be able to launch up to 10 million tons a year.
Obviously to create a permanent and sustainable city on Mars one must first arrive on the Red Planet with a crew of human beings. First, however, it will arrive on the Moon: NASA has set 2024 as a target to land with a crew on our satellite, but SpaceX said it hopes to land Starship first, by 2022, to prepare for the NASA landing.