At the music, film and media festival known as SXSW, Musk conceded that his forecasts on project completion times are sometimes a bit rosy: "People have told me that my timelines historically have been optimistic".
"And I think we'll be able to do short flights, sort of up-and-down flights, probably some time in the first half of next year", he said.
A successful mission to Mars in 2019 would be a historic achievement for SpaceX, the private company founded by Musk in 2002 with the mission of enabling travel between planetary bodies. For starters, the Falcon Heavy is the most powerful operational rocket on the planet, with SpaceX noting that it has "more than 5 million pounds of thrust at liftoff, equal to approximately eighteen 747 aircraft at full power".
Musk first announced his plans in September to send at least two cargo vehicles to Mars by 2022, with the goal of finding a source of water and ultimately establishing a human settlement.
The BFR could also fly people from city to city on Earth in incredibly short time spans, touting that it would take 30 minutes to hop from NY to Shanghai.
After the Heavy Falcon has been launched, its side propellers successfully landed by themselves after splitting from the core rocket.
Musk admitted as much about his deadlines with a sarcastic comment from the SXSW stage. "I'm trying to 'recalibrate'".