ELON Musk has reiterated his call for humanity to become an "interplanetary species" in order to save itself from extinction.
The billionaire, who founded US rocket firm SpaceX, was a guest on the podcast "Sway" on Monday, where he warned that mankind must populate Mars to avoid the destruction of Earth as it is engulfed by the Sun.
Scientists believe our star will expand and swallow parts of the Solar System – including our planet – within the next six billion years.
Earth's oceans will boil and life as we know it will be wiped from existence as the Sun blows up as part of its natural evolution.
"Eventually the sun is going to expand and engulf Earth," Musk, 49, told Sway host Kara Swisher.
"This is for sure going to happen, but not anytime soon."
The South African, who is also CEO of Tesla, added that SpaceX's new Starship spacecraft could help humanity move to other planets.
The vehicle is designed for deep space travel and is being developed at a SpaceX facility in Boca Chica, Texas.
Musk has previously said he hopes to send a million people to Mars in his lifetime using a 1,000-strong fleet of the 290ft-tall rockets.
"The fundamental breakthrough that is needed is a fully and rapidly reusable rocket," Musk told Sway.
He added that human flights aboard Starship could launch as early as soon as two years from now.
"I think we will launch Starship sometime next year, close to August," Musk added. "We will run it in automatic mode, without people."
"I think it will be safe for people in two years, but definitely three years."
SpaceX successfully completed its second "hop" test of a Starship rocket tank prototype earlier this month.
Propelled by a prototype Raptor engine, the rocket part was propelled 500 feet (152 metres) into the air before successfully landing again.
The California company is still in the early stages of Starship's development, but engineers have been working on the rocket for years.
The machine promises to be the world's most powerful spacecraft if SpaceX ever gets the full-scale, six-engine version off the ground.
Starship will launch into orbit atop a SpaceX Super Heavy rocket booster loaded with 28 Raptor engines.
According to SpaceX, the contraption will hit speeds of 15,000mph (25,000kph).
A number of other companies are hoping to build reusable rockets for use in future space exploration missions, including Blue Origin, which is owned by Amazon boss Jeff Bezos.
In a series of tweets earlier this year, Musk outlined how his Starship plans would open up space travel to anyone, regardless of their income.
"Needs to be such that anyone can go if they want, with loans available for those who don't have money," he wrote.
Musk's plan involves building an expansive fleet of Starship vehicles, which comprise a huge rocket topped by a bullet-shaped spacecraft.
SpaceX says reusable rockets that can land and take off again make space travel more cost effective, accessible and sustainable.
What is SpaceX?
Here’s what you need to know…
SpaceX is a cash-flushed rocket company that wants to take man to Mars.
It was set up by eccentric billionaire Elon Musk in 2002 and is based in Hawthorne, California.
SpaceX's first aim was to build rockets that could autonomously land back on Earth and be re-used.
Musk hoped the technology would make flying and operating space flights far cheaper.
SpaceX currently uses its reusable rockets to fly cargo to the International Space Station for Nasa.
It also carries satellites and other space tech into orbit for various international governments and companies.
The company took astronauts up to the ISS for the first time in 2020.
Other future missions involve carrying tourists and astronauts to the Moon.
Musk has repeatedly said he believes humanity must colonise Mars to save itself from extinction.
He plans to get a SpaceX rocket to the Red Planet sometime in the 2030s.
In other news, SpaceX blew up a Starship rocket tank on purpose last week during a dramatic "pressure test".
The company completed its second successful Starship test flight earlier this month.
Musk wants to send humans to Mars as early as 2024 aboard one of the huge rockets.
What do you think of Musk's plans for Starship? Let us know in the comments!
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