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Elon Musk unveils a spacecraft that will transport humans to Mars

SpaceX, founded by billionaire entrepreneur Elon Musk, unveiled a vision for a rocket that will carry humans to a Mars colony Monday at a convention in Los Angeles. The groundbreaking talk included the unveiling of a new series of rockets called Starship, which will ferry two to 10 people, both humans and robots, to Mars at a rate of one a week.

President Trump last year announced a plan for NASA to send humans to Mars in the 2030s, a deadline that is likely to be challenged by SpaceX.

“It’s basically an I.C.B.M. that lands,” Mr. Musk said, using the acronym for an acronym of a surface spacecraft used for building bridges and canals.

For this feat, SpaceX announced that it has designed an entirely new rocket called the Starship.

“It’s finally going to fly,” Mr. Musk said. The ship will need to stand more than 420 feet tall to offer adequate cargo capacity. It will weigh about 6.5 million pounds, enough to carry 100 people to Mars. In the coming weeks, SpaceX said, it will test out a test version of Starship in California. The company hopes to one day fly humans from Earth to Mars.

In 2016, Mr. Musk suggested that this leap in technological capability could conceivably take place in four to eight years. Back then, he said a spaceship carrying 100 people could be ready for missions to Mars in 2022.

In April, he forecast that SpaceX had worked out the most difficult part of the feat: rocketing a spaceship out of Earth’s atmosphere, albeit to a height of just about 100 miles. However, in August, he said that so far SpaceX has not figured out how to get the spacecraft back in Earth’s atmosphere.

SpaceX’s prediction of a far-off future has been problematic. In 2017, its maiden voyage of an unmanned spaceship, called Falcon Heavy, was destroyed in a launch pad explosion on the grounds of Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida. SpaceX and NASA are assessing the cost of re-launching and recovering the powerful rocket, which was to have been the biggest in the world.

Monday’s announcement came as the European Space Agency prepares to test launch its launcher, the Proton-M, at the end of this year, from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan. Unlike SpaceX’s Starship, Proton-M will take astronauts into space and into deep space.