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Getting humans on the Red Planet has been the goal of space agencies since NASA first got men on the Moon in 1969. Since then, the aim has been to go one step further and reach Earth’s next door planetary neighbour, Mars. However, getting people there is an extremely complicated issue.

A journey there could take around six months, which poses its own psychological problems for astronauts left alone in the void of space for such a long time.

Another issue is the physical health consequences of the journey, mainly the lack of protection from Earth’s atmosphere against deadly solar radiation.

Then there is the issue that Mars is cold and, seemingly, lifeless.

With no oxygen, food or drinkable water on the Red Planet, space cadets would have to transport the essentials there and build a base conducive to human life.

All of this does not even begin to take into consideration the sheer cost of the mission, with the price-tag rising potentially to hundreds of billions of dollars.

The timeline to get to Mars was still potentially decades from now, but SpaceX chief and billionaire Elon Musk has other plans.

He believes humans could arrive there by 2026, potentially even 2024 if all goes to plan.

Mr Musk said that part of the battle is timing the synchronisation between Earth and Mars.

The two planets reach their closest orbit to each other roughly every 18 months, and after one this year, the two planets will not be close again until 2022 – which SpaceX may use to send an unmanned rocket there.

2020 Axel Springer Award Show on Tuesday in Berlin, Germany, Mr Musk said: “I feel fairly confident about six years from now.

“I’d say if you say six years from now, I think highly confident. If we get lucky, maybe four years and we’re trying to send an uncrewed vehicle there in two years.”

However, conquering Mars will be no easy feat.

Even Mr Musk has claimed that the first people to get there may have to make the ultimate sacrifice.

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The SpaceX chief has previously said: “Getting to Mars, I think, is not the fundamental issue.

“The fundamental issue is building a base, building a city on Mars that is self-sustaining.

“We’re going to build a propellant plant, an initial Mars base – Mars Base Alpha – and then get it to the point where it’s self-sustaining.

“I want to emphasise that this is a very hard and dangerous, difficult thing, not for the faint of heart.

“Good chance you’ll die, it’s going to be tough going, but it will be pretty glorious if it works out.”

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