Elon Musk in Adelaide for SpaceX and beyond

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Elon Musk added that the rockets should also cater to Earth inhabitants by reducing the travel between major cities to less than half-an-hour.

Both men were in Australia on Friday, with Mr Musk addressing the International Astronautical Congress in Adelaide as ESA director-general Jan Woerner visited WA for the first time. Spaceships carrying people should follow by 2024.

Elon Musk on Friday unveiled his ambitious plan to send cargo ships to Mars in five years, as part of SpaceX's efforts to make sure its rockets are financially feasible.

He's not done there, however, with the BFR's real objective being to get humans to Mars, which in turn involves stopping off at the SpaceX moon base.

Known as the BFR, this rocket system could also carry people rapidly around the Earth from city to city.

He shied away from giving specific numbers.

The closely-held space exploration company now flies the Falcon 9 rocket for customers that include NASA, commercial satellite operators and the USA military.

He envisions the rockets enabling SpaceX to eventually establish a lunar base, which he dubbed "Moon Base Alpha".

"It's really insane that we build these sophisticated rockets and then crash them every time we fire", he said. "What the hell's going on?" It could also be used much closer to home.

And it may come in handy closer to home.

Musk did not estimate the cost of such flights, but said that most long-distance flights could be completed in 30 minutes, and you could get anywhere on Earth in under an hour.

SpaceX founder Elon Musk says travel from New York City to Shanghai in just over 30 minutes is possible with rocket travel. Another factor has been the development of autonomous systems that will allow the Crew Dragon to dock directly with the International Space Station (ISS) rather than being guided to its berth by a robotic arm like the cargo version.

On Thursday, the European Space Agency said setting up a permanent village on the Moon was the first step towards exploring Mars.

However, we know how to shield astronauts from this radiation during their journey to Mars and in fact we have developed computer models of this already. It came as a surprise, given that Musk is now involved in plans to colonise Mars.

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