In a surprise statement on costs related to Mars exploration, SpaceX CEO Elon Musk has claimed that his company’s Mars-colonizing spacecraft will only entail a small price tag if things go according to plan.

Noting the specifics, Musk said his Mars landing rockets will only cost $2 million for each mission. “If you consider operational costs, maybe it'll be like $2 million” out of SpaceX's pocket each time, Musk added.

The CEO’s statement came on Tuesday during an interaction with a top official of the U.S Air Force during the U.S. Air Force Space Pitch Day.

Musk quipped in the conversation with Lt. Gen. John Thompson, commander of the Space and Missile Systems Center at Los Angeles Air Force Base: “This is much less than even a tiny rocket.”

The SpaceX Starship system in progress has a reusable 100-passenger spaceship placed atop a reusable rocket called Super Heavy, per SpaceX news.

Reports said Starship will use just $900,000 worth of propellant to shoot into the orbit from the surface of Earth.

Musk who is also CEO of the electric-vehicle company Tesla explained his vision on cost-effective rockets and other vehicles at the Air Force event and said he did “zero market research whatsoever.”

The sole focus has been on creating a “Platonic ideal” of a rocket or car.

Reusable rockets championed by Musk have caught the imagination of the space industry and it has become as popular as the Houston Rockets.

Mars Direct plan for safer Mars landing

Meanwhile, in the continuing discourse on Mars colonization at a pace exceeding Bruno Mars creations, a viable plan for sending humans to the Red Planet has been mooted.

This was pitched by Robert Zubrin, founder of the Mars Society who claimed it is a better way than existing ideas including those propounded by SpaceX, NASA, and others.

 Delivering a talk at the International Astronautical Congress (IAC) on Oct. 23, Zubrin explained his “Mars Direct” plan.

Mars Direct, according to Zubrin will use the Gateway lunar space station as a staging point for human Mars missions. Elon Musk SpaceX SpaceX CEO Elon Musk speaks at a press conference at SpaceX headquarters where he announced the Japanese billionaire chosen by the company to fly around the moon, on September 17, 2018 in Hawthorne, California. Photo: Mario Tama/Getty Images

Mars Direct, proposed in the early 1990s, envisages an Earth Return Vehicle (ERV) at the core. The ERV launched as an uncrewed mission to Mars will reach the Red Planet in six months.

In the Mars Direct’s ERV, a nuclear-powered rover will be installed at the top to generate rocket fuel from the Martian atmosphere engulfed by carbon-dioxide.

Later more spacecraft could go to Mars, in the next window coming after 26 months after the first ERV flight. In the second ERV, astronauts can fly. That ERV cycle and habitat combination can be sustained, according to Zubrin.

Already the Mars mode in Google Earth has given a virtual experience of Red Planet to people in terms of 3D visuals of its terrain, satellite images, Mars rover trajectory, street views and satellite images captured by orbital cameras.