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An Interview with Elon Musk of SpaceX - SpacePod 2010.08.10

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A Skype interview with SpaceX founder Elon Musk on your SpacePod for August 10th, 2010. On this SpacePod we've got an awesome interview with Elon Musk. Now we're doing this over Skype, so please forgive us if we get a few audio drop-outs and if you want to see the full interview you can do that by signing into your SpaceVidcast Epic account or signing up for access. And I did want to thank you for taking the time out of your day. I know you're extremely busy. You've got a slew of different companies that you work with and going back to the beginning ... well a little bit after the beginning after X.com and Paypal, you founded three companies or at least founded and funded three companies: SpaceX, which does rockets; Tesla motors for cars; and you also did Solar City, which is photovoltaics. Why those three companies? Elon: It really just goes back to when I was in college I wanted to be involved in things that I thought would really have an effect on the world. And the three arenas that I thought would have the biggest impact on the future of humanity were the internet, moving to a sustainable energy economy, and space exploration, in particular becoming a multi-planet species. So, I did a couple of interim companies that gave me the capital to work on sustainable energy and space exploration and that's what was really the impetus behind creating those companies. Ben: Tell us a little bit about the future. A little bit of information has been leaking out about, and I don't know how to pronounce this correctly, is it Falcon X or Falcon 10? Is that considered Roman numerals or an X? Elon: Well, I think probably Falcon X I suppose. I think a lot of it was just really taken out of context. It was one of our ... one of the engineering directors at SpaceX was at a propulsion conference and tossed out some ideas, but those are not official SpaceX policy or plans or anything, they are just ideas for discussion. And then some articles were written that basically made it sound as though it was some kind of official SpaceX plan or policy or what SpaceX was proposing. You know, I think [garbled audio] it should be possible for SpaceX engineering managers to go to a conference and talk about ideas without getting too carried away. And they did. So I would not read anything into it. Those are just some ideas for discussion. Ben: Well you know, the good thing about that is, one interesting take-away, is that if the U.S. government were to say something like that, we would all kind of scoff and go, "Yeah, maybe." But when SpaceX comes up and says, "Here's a potential future ..." we all kind of, at this point, believe it. You're kind of the company that we all look at and go, "Yeah if anyone could do it, it's them!" And along those same lines, that's where a lot of the old space advocates, or we'll call them established space advocates, when we pointed at the Falcon 9 flight 1 launch, they were waiting for that to explode in the air or for anything to go wrong so they could slam down the proposed fiscal year 2011 plan. And even when you were successful, they still found ways to slam it down. Why are they pointing at SpaceX as the only company for that? Because you're not the only company under the COTS program. But why are they targeting SpaceX? Elon: Well, I think the reality is that SpaceX is the only threat to the incumbent big aerospace companies that they've seen in their careers, ever. Yeah, you'd have to go back to the early days of airplanes or something to when Lockheed and Boeing were first getting formed to really say, "Yeah, that's when they had a serious threat." Because it's been this sort of cozy oligopoly for quite a long time. Or in the launch business there was a duopoly, you know, where Boeing had their launch vehicles and Lockheed had their own. You know, it's really just a situation that they're attacking the only threat that they've ever seen. Ben: Do you believe that Mars by 2025 is possible and if so, where would funding for that come from? Elon: Yeah, I think that it is important to be precise with the language. I hope that people land on Mars by 2025. You know, SpaceX will aspire to help make that happen. If there is any way SpaceX can make that happen, we'll make it happen if it's within our power to influence that objective we will do so. But I want to distinguish that from being predictive of that occurring. I'm not saying it will occur, I'm just saying that we will help to make it happen and I think it is possible that it could happen. Ben: So, another question from the twitter-verse was what about the Falcon 1e? It seems like we've got a lot of momentum and time going into the Falcon 9, but what about the Falcon 1? Elon: Well, we are upgrading the Falcon 1. That will launch sometime hopefully next year. The Falcon 1e, or essentially version 2 of the Falcon 1 will make use of an upgraded Merlin engine. We have a Merlin 1 that is an improved version of the Merlin 1C. And that's the engine that will be the main engine for the upgraded Falcon 1. So, you know, we want to get all that engine development done before we do the rest of the upgrades of the Falcon 1. But there's no question that we're going to get it done, and I would expect the first flight perhaps, you know, late next year or something like that. Yeah. Ben: Alright, awesome. Like I said, I know you need to go, but I did want to thank you for your time. Hopefully you won't be a stranger to this show. I'd love to bring you on live sometime so we could get the internet and twitter-verse, as it were, to ask their questions directly of you because you are a fascinating mind and you're doing stuff that is frankly, without sounding too cheesy, going to forever change humanity and it's really fun to watch. Elon: Well thanks, I certainly hope it has a profound long term effect. I'd be happy to come on your show again in the future. I do think it's important to sort of rally the people to the cause of commercial space because I really feel like this is a situation where the big companies that have billions of dollars and just armies of lobbyists and PR firms and everything, they can really sort of overwhelm the truth in a situation like this and I think that has happened actually. Because it's just crazy that we're fighting over a tiny portion of the NASA budget for commercial space. You know, we're trying to get $300 million for commercial space out of about $18.5 billion [budget] and yet, sort of the dark forces are doing everything they can to shut that off. Basically they're just hoping to starve commercial space to death. That's their goal and it's sort of a pretty evil goal. And I think one of the ways that we can fight that is by people calling their congressman and senator and that kind of thing. And just going out there and speaking out in favor of commercial spaceflight. Because that's the only chance that anyone has of normal people going to space otherwise it's always going to be just a small number of astronauts at extremely expensive costs going to Low Earth Orbit in the future. Ben: Well absolutely. You know, that's a great note to end this on. Thank you very much for joining us Elon. And please keep this conversation going, don't just talk about this in the comments on the website and on Youtube and whatnot, keep it going on Twitter, keep it going on Facebook. Do it at the water cooler, do it in person. Talk about this with your family and friends. Get space in the forefront of the consciousness of humanity again! It was there when we were on the moon and then it kind of vanished because, you know, it started to stagnate. Well, no longer! Now we're starting to do some really cool things. Start talking about it. And as you start talking about it, you'll find that the consciousness, the global consciousness, becomes more and more educated. And I think that's very very important, getting people excited and engaged about human spaceflight again. If you want to continue this in person, you can do so at the upcoming SpaceUp conference in Washington D.C.

Video Details

Duration: 10 minutes and 6 seconds
Year: 2010
Country: United States
Language: English
Producer: Benjamin Higginbotham
Director: Benjamin Higginbotham
Views: 186
Posted by: spacevidcast on Aug 10, 2010

SpaceX founder, CEO and CTO Elon Musk sat down with us for about 20 minutes to talk about space and SpaceX. This is the 10 minute SpacePod edition which has a little under 1/2 the interview available. For the full interview you'll need to sign up for Spacevidcast epic access.

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