Elon Musk says that while sticking to timelines has never been his strong point, he hopes that he'll have started the next chapter in his space odyssey in the first half 2019. That's when the SpaceX founder hopes the BFR—aka the Big F------ Rocket—will make its first short trips in preparation for a mission to Mars, the Guardian reports. Musk told the SXSW conference that the world needs to make a Mars colony a priority so that our species can be preserved in the event of a catastrophic war. "If there's a Third World War we want to make sure there’s enough of a seed of human civilization somewhere else to bring it back and shorten the length of the dark ages." He told the conference he thought unregulated AI was as scary, and as likely to lead to war, as nuclear weapons.
Musk rejected suggestions that the Mars colony would be a bolthole for the rich, saying it would be as difficult and dangerous as early expeditions to Antarctica. But he added that there will be plenty of opportunities for entrepreneurs after a rudimentary base was set up, the BBC reports. "Mars will need pizza joints, great bars—Mars Bars," he quipped. Musk, who cited Fred Astaire and Kanye West as his inspirations, hopes to make a cargo flight to Mars by 2022, CNBC reports. Musk also spoke about the early financial struggles of his companies, saying "SpaceX is alive by the skin of its teeth, and so is Tesla—if things had just gone a little differently, both companies would be dead," he said. (Read more Elon Musk stories.)