Key Words: Elon Musk says SpaceX Mars rocket may make first flight as soon as next year

Elon Musk says the first stage of SpaceX’s mission to Mars could happen as soon as next year.

Speaking during a surprise question-and-answer session at the SXSW conference in Austin, Texas, on Sunday, the chief executive of SpaceX and Tesla Inc. TSLA, +5.99% said “we are building the first Mars, or interplanetary ship, and I think well be able to do short trips, short up and down flights, by first half of next year,” although he acknowledged he tends to have overly optimistic timelines.

When he announced his Mars plans last year, Musk said he aimed to land cargo shipments on Mars by 2022, followed by the first colonists.

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