Elon Musk wants to send humans to Mars, and it could happen as soon as 2024. The SpaceX CEO has outlined a plan to get people to the red planet, with bold visions of refueling rockets to “planet hop” and explore the furthest reaches of the solar system.

Many plans for a Mars settlement expect a community in matters of decades. The United Arab Emirates aims for a city of 600,000 by 2117. Astrobiologist Lewis Dartnell told Inverse last month that “while the first human mission to land on Mars will likely take place in the next two decades, it will probably be more like 50-100 years before substantial numbers of people have moved to Mars to live in self-sustaining towns.”

SpaceX is aiming for a much, much faster timeframe. Here’s how it looks:

SpaceX’s Mars Plan: 2019

The company is set to hold the first “hop tests” for its Mars-bound Starship in this year, seeing if the rocket can jump a few hundred kilometers. SpaceX has been developing a test facility in Boca Chica, Texas, shipping over 300,000 cubic yards of locally-sourced soil. In July 2018, the firm took shipment of a 95,000-gallon liquid oxygen tank, around the same capacity as 20 tanker trucks. It’s also completed a 600-kilowatt solar array and two ground station antennas that may also prove useful for Crew Dragon missions. In October 2018, it took shipment of the final major ground tank system to support the initial flights.

CEO Elon Musk previously described these tests as “fly out, turn around, accelerate back real hard and come in hot to test the heat shield because we want to have a highly reusable heat shield that’s capable of absorbing the heat from interplanetary entry velocities.” Assuming all goes well, it’s onto the next stage.

SpaceX’s Mars Plan: 2020

As the United States holds its next presidential election, SpaceX will be working on the next stage of Starship tests. This year’s tests cover the booster, as well as high altitude, high-velocity flights. The team is expected to conduct a number of test flights before actually placing anyone on board.

SpaceX’s Mars Plan: 2022

This could be the first year that SpaceX reaches Mars. At the International Astronautical Congress in Adelaide, Australia, in September 2017, Musk suggested this year as the point at which at least two unmanned ships could make their way to Mars.

The BFR.
The Starship.

“I feel fairly confident that we can complete the ship and prepare the ship for launch in about five years,” he said. “Five years feels like a long time to me.”

The ships would place power, mining and life support infrastructure for future flights. They would also confirm water resources and identify hazards. Each ship would carry around 100 tons of supplies.

SpaceX’s Mars Plan: 2023

This is the year when SpaceX is expected to send Japanese billionaire Yukazu Maezawa, alongside six to eight artists, on a trip around the moon using the Starship. While not specifically a Mars-focused mission, its success would bode well for a future manned mission.

spacex lunar mission track
The path that Starship will take when on the Lunar Mission.

SpaceX’s Mars Plan: 2024

It’s time for another election for president of the United States. If all goes to plan, it may also be time to send the first humans to Mars.

The plan is to send two cargo ships, alongside two crew ships taking the first people to Mars. They will be tasked with setting up a propellant production plant, combining Martian water, ice, and carbon dioxide to create methane and liquid oxygen to fuel the ships and come back home. The humans would be tasked with collecting one tonne of ice every day to fuel the plant.

The BFR.
The Starship on Mars.

In short, it’s not going to be a leisurely visit. Musk stated at the South by Southwest Festival in Austin, Texas in March this year, that Mars and the moon “are often thought of as some escape hatch for rich people, but it won’t be that at all.”

SpaceX’s Mars Plan: 2025

This is the earliest point at which Musk thinks a Mars colony could take shape. The CEO has predicted a timeframe of “7 to 10 years” before the first bases take shape.

This will expand on the work left behind by the first humans. Paul Wooster, principal Mars development engineer for SpaceX, explained that “the idea would be to expand out, start off not just with an outpost, but grow into a larger base, not just like there are in Antarctica, but really a village, a town, growing into a city and then multiple cities on Mars.” The larger cities would offer habitats, greenhouses, life support, and enable new experiments that help to answer some of the big questions about life on Mars.

A Mars city.
A potential future Mars city.

SpaceX’s Mars Plan: Beyond

By the end of the next decade, SpaceX expects to have some sort of settlement on Mars. Musk has said there’s a 70 percent chance he’ll visit Mars himself in his lifetime, perhaps paying a visit to this developing colony. That is, depending on how the first settlements go — Musk said in 2016 that “probably people will die,” but “ultimately, it will be very safe to go to Mars, and it will be very comfortable.”

Mars could perhaps serve as a base for more ambitious missions, with Musk describing the Starship as “really intended as an interplanetary transport system that’s capable of getting from Earth to anywhere in the solar system as you establish propellant depots along the way.”

SpaceX's BFR in action.
Leaving for further adventures.

Beyond transforming humanity into a space-faring civilization, it could also preserve the species. SpaceX president Gwynne Shotwell said in April that “if something were to happen on Earth, you need humans living somewhere else…I think you need multiple paths to survival, and this is one of them.”

Related video: Elon Musk Predicts Our Future On Mars At SXSW 2018

Photos via SpaceX/Instagram, SpaceX, Elon Musk/Twitter