In a new interview for the Axios on HBO documentary series, he said a “recent number of breakthroughs” had been made that excited him, and which he believed made deep space travel more likely during his lifetime.
The billionaire, who also runs car firm Tesla, suggested any journey to Mars would be one-way and that he planned to “move there”.
Mr Musk also dismissed suggestions that travel to Mars could be an “escape hatch for rich people”.
“No, your probability of dying on Mars is much higher than Earth. Really, the ad for going to Mars will be like Shackleton’s ad for going to the Antarctic,” he said.
“It’s going to be hard, there’s a good chance of death going in a little can through deep space. You might land successfully. Once you land successfully you’ll be working non-stop to build the base, so there’s not much time for leisure.
“Once you get there, even after doing all this, it’s a very harsh environment so there’s a good chance you die there. We think you can come back but we’re not sure. Does that sound like an escape hatch for rich people?”
Despite these dangers, Mr Musk reiterated his desire to make the trip, saying that like climbing Everest, a key part of the experience was the challenge.
SpaceX is planning its first private passenger trip around the moon in 2023, when Japanese billionaire Yusaku Maezawa – who has paid an undisclosed amount for the honour – will make the journey.