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Elon Musk of SpaceX: The Goal is Mars (latimes.com)
266 points by api on Aug 2, 2012 | hide | past | web | favorite | 100 comments



I'm a contrarian, a-social person. if everybody were running left, I'd run right. I completely despise hero-worship. It ruins people's critical-thinking skills. But if I were to have a living hero, it'd be Elon Musk. The man rocks. Seriously. The guy has nailed every interview I've ever seen of him.

Having said that, I'm concerned that we focus a little too much on Space-X. As much as what Elon is doing is awesome, I'd feel better for the species if we had 3 or 4 competitors very close on his heels. I know that he has competitors, but as far as I know none of them seem to have the long term vision and dedication to reusable, scaleable architectures that he has.

I don't want to trade having all of our eggs in a basket labeled "NASA" with having all of our eggs in a basket labeled "Space-X"


Nah, it's fine this way. Right now SpaceX has found a way to massively lower costs and streamline operations, which is a huge win. They've figured out how to make a profit in aerospace beyond just padding big government procurement contracts. Which is great for them, their business is going to grow by leaps and bounds as more and more people use them for launches. And it's great for us too because it means those launches will be cheaper than they would have been otherwise.

But it's also great for the market. Nothing attracts imitation like runaway success, and profits. There are already companies gearing up to compete head to head with SpaceX (Blue Origin, XCOR, Virgin Galactic, etc.) And there are the traditional companies (Boeing, LockMart, etc.) who may be able to renovate their operations enough to build rockets efficiently. And as the market grows (which is inevitable given the lowering costs) there will be new competitors in orbital launch that are not even on the horizon today.


> But if I were to have a living hero, it'd be Elon Musk.

I do have a living hero, and he is Elon Musk.

Has anyone noticed the parallels with Schwarzenegger, and the differences?

When Arnold was a young athlete, someone asked him "so what do you want to do with your life?" He said: "I'd like to be a bodybuilding world champion. Then I'd like to become an actor. Then I'd like to do politics."

He nailed every single one of those goals. But please notice those are the ultimate goals of the individual ego (more precisely, of the male ego): physical power, fame, money, and political power. He's basically Conan in real life.

Now, Elon Musk also made a list of the most important issues to solve - the ones most important for the planet, for humanity as a whole, not for the little individual ego. We need a clean environment, we need energy, and we need to put some of our eggs in another basket.

And then he went on knocking them off the list one by one. First PayPal, to achieve financial independence. Then Tesla Motors (good for the environment), Solar City (energy), and SpaceX (Mars colonization). And he's willing to risk his own life to achieve those goals.

I've no doubt, Elon Musk is up there among the greatest. If he makes it to Mars, one day kids will learn his name from the history books.


It does seem all very noble except when you remember that SpaceX sees itself as a military weapons company. In almost every interview, amongst the background hype, he makes a mention of defence.


Rocketry is a dual-use technology; it can be used for good (satellites, exploration, science) or for launching explosives around the world. Paints are also a dual-use technology; it can be used for good (art) or evil (it can get you high).

Do we label every paint manufacturer a drug dealer because they have a product that can be misused?


evil (it can get you high)

-_-. You could have come up with a less politically charged example than that (perhaps any arbitrary blunt, heavy, or sharp object?).


He could have chose graffiti, but regardless his still had a very valid point.


On the contrary, I seem to recall him saying something to the effect of "it's unfortunate than the U.S. government classifies spacecraft as weapons, so we have to do everything in house."

Found it: http://www.newscientist.com/blogs/onepercent/2012/05/spacex-... (although his assessment of rockets being classified as weapons seems more neutral than I remembered it)

"rocket technology is ... considered an advanced weapons technology so you can't really [outsource] - so in our case manufacturing is necessary."


Name me one weapon SpaceX has had a hand in developing.

Name me one.


I submit that it is Elon's individual ego that drives him to strive for and achieve these goals. Its just that his goals seem broader to you than Arnie's. And to a large extent they are. But the goals are driven by his ego, and not some mumbo jumbo altruistic feeling.


Uh... it's complicated. And that ("it's complicated") is something one needs to repeat often when talking about psychology with computer folks. ;)

Yes, it's his ego driving him. No, I did not imply he's a saint. Yes, his goals are more broad.

Careful with judgements like this, since they are often projections of your own self. In other words, you saw in my statements things that irritate you, and responded to those projections.

And finally, joining and equating mumbo-jumbo with altruism is already very revealing in terms of your own attitude. ;)

And, with that, the armchair psychologist is signing off.


I am not afraid of revealing my values. And what do I have to be careful about?

Cockroaches hide in dark places.


I don't believe that is a driving factor. Is it that hard to believe someone would want to do something soo ambitious just because they want the future to be better? I would say that's the default desire of a human being until it's beaten out of them by society.


> they want

That want is driven by ego.


Space-X has plenty of competition. After all NASA doesn't make it's rockets itself - Boeing, Lokheed-Martin, Orbital Sciences, etc do. The difference is the funding model, but there's nothing to stop these other companies adapting to the competition Space-X is providing.

The risk of wishing for a competitor is that one will turn up that doesn't compete on innovation and efficiency, but competes on some other axis such as financial or political muscle. That might provide benefits in the short term, but long term it would be terrible if Space-X were pushed aside that way.


Actually, all things considered, we're still pretty much "the little guy" of aerospace (even if social media trends would convince one otherwise).

It is fun to imagine SpaceX as some megalith of the private aerospace industry, poised to usurp NASA and colonise the galaxy in the name of the free market (which is almost the narrative you'd get reading all the press), but this kind of thinking has led to some really unfortunate misconceptions in the past (such as that of Gene Cernan, who did later apologise to Elon once he learned more about the company). The reality is that in some ways we're still basically a mid-level startup (as startuppy as a defence contractor can be, in any case), and without the successes of COTS 1 (December 2010) and COTS 2 (May 2012), most people here would never have heard of SpaceX.

We're definitely not in competition with or on track to replace NASA (they're our biggest customer!), and we're not even the most prominent name in government space launch at present (media/popularity aside). ULA, in fact, is the current "evil empire" of the public launch market (United Launch Alliance; Lockheed/Boeing joint venture founded in 2006). Aside from ULA, there are a bunch of small companies with similar visions (e.g. Orbital), as well as some pretty fierce competition both in the US and abroad gearing up to seriously attack commercial launch / space exploration (e.g. China). Keep in mind that this isn't necessarily solely related to pressure from SpaceX, but also the natural result of a recovery in the global launch market as a whole since the crash in the 90's.

Don't get me wrong: SpaceX is 100% on track to kick everyone else's ass and get us to Mars next decade. However, it's pretty far from a given, and there is still a ton of resistance against new entrants (entrenched deals and interests, competing lobbyists, FUD/propaganda floating around Washington, etc.).

Right now is way too early for you to start worrying about what could potentially happen in a hypothetical SpaceX-dominated launch / space travel market (especially if it's for the sake of being contrarian). Let's at least approach that point in time before seriously discussing it's potential merits and drawbacks.

---

Edit / Full Disclosure: I work here, but I don't speak on behalf of SpaceX or anything of the sort.


There are competitors, but none of them have delivered yet. Then again, SpaceX didn't really deliver until this year when it docked with ISS.

Blue Origin is doing things, but I'm not sure it's not just a vanity project for Bezos. XCOR is working on some subsystems that are probably transplantable across different vendors. Bigelow seems to be working on payloads. Scaled Composites is trying something quite different from SpaceX and it remains to be seen which way is better (if there's even such a single answer to that).

There are even smaller places like Armadillo, but it may be not meant to compete. I'm reading a lot in here, but I think Carmack sees it as an incubator for new space talent.


> I'm reading a lot in here, but I think Carmack sees it as an incubator for new space talent.

I may be reading a lot in here, but are you saying that incubators are mostly just talent farms?


You are applying your YC bias to the word 'incubator'.

in·cu·ba·tor/ˈinkyəˌbātər/

Noun:

1. An enclosed apparatus providing a controlled environment for the care of premature babies. 2. An apparatus used to hatch eggs or grow microorganisms under controlled conditions.


I am with you on the first paragraph. BS on the rest - we focus too much on FB.

HN is like a real time ticker for FB stock and stories while Elon should be valued at 100 times zuck.

We should focus MORE on spaceX and Tesla and zero on FB.


"I'm concerned that we focus a little too much on Space-X."

That is an unusual point of view. A common behavior for people exposed to a 'success' is to focus intensely on it and try to learn from it so that they can duplicate it. It is also common for people who feel threatened in some way by a success to try to diminish it or explain it away as a fluke. From the perspective of someone who feels more access to space is critical to the future of the US economy, if not the worlds economy, I dig into everything I can about Space-X to see how they changed the formula.

They are certainly not the first company to attempt developing an orbital launch capability. For those to young to remember Ronald Regan's Strategic Defense Initiative (SDI) it was going to require literally hundreds, if not thousands, of satellite launches. That potential market drew a lot of smart people in to try to figure out how to build a commercial launch capability.

My personal favorite of that time, the DC-X [1], was considered a leading contender. (From what I've seen of Blue Origin, and that Wikipedia reference, it looks like B-O has picked up that line of research). But none of these efforts came anywhere close to being as successful as Space-X. So I really really want to know how they avoided the traps these other companies landed in.

[1] http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/McDonnell_Douglas_DC-X


http://www.wired.com/autopia/2012/07/virgin-galactic-satelli...

The air-launch system has a lot of flexibility and convenience. It's also a proven concept. (Scaled Composites actually built an aircraft launch system for small orbital payloads years in advance of Space Ship One. It's hard to find with all of the Virgin and Stratolaunch links, though.)


Orbital Systems Corp. has an air-launched booster, Pegasus, in regular service (launched off a converted L-1011 airliner). I'm not sure Rutan or Scaled Composites had much to do with it, though.

(OSC is also the "other" commercial cargo provider for the space station, though they haven't started with demo flights yet; they're using their own booster for this, though the first-stage engines are refurbs from the old Soviet lunar program. Literally --- another American aerospace company bought thirty-odd engines that had been built for the Soviet N1 booster out of a warehouse in Kazakhstan...)


So what are some of the interviews of him that you have enjoyed? I've seen the one at [Pandodaily](http://pandodaily.com/2012/07/12/pandomonthly-presents-a-fir...).


The guy is remarkable. A Jobs-like visionary. But Space X is fantasy at this point driven by a titan of a personality. Having worked in the space business, I'm far more impressed by Tesla, and even Paypal.


If you've worked in the industry (I'm assuming not at SpaceX), I can see how you'd assume that SpaceX would be similar. It isn't.

It really feels like a startup here; everything moves incredibly quickly, major advances in launch technology are being engineered and tested all the time at a fairly breakneck pace, and the whole show is run by some pretty brilliant minds (a good mix of younger engineers and veterans from NASA and the private auto and aerospace industries). Regardless of how closely reality ends up aligning with Elon's goals, the progress made here is pretty far from fantastic.


By fantastic, I'm talking about this "Mars for half a million dollars in 15 years" talk. It's crazy ambitious. Space X is doing lots of great stuff in new ways, but it's all stuff that has been done before. There will be a wall of difficulty, both technical and financial, that will prove extremely difficult to overcome. I will even go as far as to say it's a pipe dream (although I hope I am wrong!).

But I've always thought part of Musk's brilliance is that he has a way fo aiming for the stars and landing on the moon. The moon is still pretty cool, but it isn't the stars.


Ah, fair enough; that's pretty different from "SpaceX [as a whole] is fantasy" (much more reasonable).

As far as financial issues, SpaceX is pretty hugely successful with commercial launch as it is (even more so with the new NASA deal announced this morning); but, worst case financial scenario (as the inside joke goes), "Hey Congress, we're about to send a manned spacecraft to Mars, and some country's flag is going in with them...".

As far as technical issues, I can't really subscribe to the idea that the team hasn't accounted for or will inevitably fail to account for some massive unknown/unforeseen/insurmountable blocker on the road to Mars. It's certainly possible, but there really isn't any fundamentally unique problem (that I can see) in a manned mission to Mars which hasn't already been solved in some form in the past.


Agreed. I should have been more specific. I'm talking only in the context of making a business of sending people to Mars as described vaguely by Musk in various interviews.

I am still very skeptical that there is a non-government way to keep someone alive for a round trip. That's a very tough problem to fix with limited finances and time.


Fantasy? How so?

They've launched orbital rockets and demonstrated they can do so far more cost effectively than anyone else in history. They've done the same for delivering pressurized cargo to ISS. And their work on manned spaceflight, heavy lift launchers, and reusable launch vehicles is enormously credible given their current track record and history of unabashed transparency.


Could we consider Armadillo Aerospace a competitor? John Carmak et. al. http://www.armadilloaerospace.com/


I had forgotten that Armadillo Aerospace existed. Do they consider themselves to be a serious competitor? In other words do they actually employ engineers and design rockets, or are they just talking about it?


"Armadillo Aerospace has been officially granted a full commercial launch license by the FAA. Paying payloads launching next month. "

https://twitter.com/ID_AA_Carmack/status/228858210327609344


No. But you might consider Sierra Nevada Corp, Boeing, or ATK as competitors.


Hero? Is he really doing anything special or is he just doing cool things with the government's money, and would they have survived without the cash injection? Surely its harder to bootstrap a business, those guys should be called heros.


SpaceX was always primarily funded by Elon personally while starting up. It is a business. No, most businesses are not more difficult to bootstrap than commercial space launch services.


People have done far worse things with the government's money.


"Would you go to Mars?

I would. The first flight would be risky; if I felt comfortable that the company's mission will continue, that my kids have grown up, then I'd be on the first mission."

I love that the risk of death only frightens him from a view point of responsibilities. As the father of his children, and apparently the father of humanities future in space.


To quote from another interview with him:

"It would be cool to be born on Earth, and die on Mars." (of old age, I assume)


He's repeated a number of variations of that quote. One of the better ones is, I want to die on Mars. Hopefully not on impact.


May I ask why I'm being downvoted here? What rule of HN did I violate?


Not sure. I was going to post this same quote to comment on it. I can only imagine what it must feel like to want to be the first man on Mars and actually have the ability to do it.


Reminds me of the plot of Heinlein's The Man Who Sold The Moon, in which space-loving entrepreneur Delos D. Harriman builds a company big and capable enough to send a manned rocket to the moon, only to find out that his board of directors won't let him go.


Downvotes aren't necessarily punishment; they mean "I want less of this on HN". It might just be that people don't think your comment contributes to the type of discussion they want to have.


> the risk of death only frightens him from a view point of responsibilities

Which view point does death frighten you for?


>The thing that got me started with SpaceX was the feeling of dismay — I just did not want Apollo to be our high-water mark. We do not want a future where we tell our children that this was the best we ever did.

Glad someone has this motivation.

http://xkcd.com/893/


"We choose to go to Mars. We choose to go to the Mars in this decade and do the other things, not because they are easy, but because they are hard, because that goal will serve to organize and measure the best of our energies and skills, because that challenge is one that we are willing to accept, one we are unwilling to postpone, and one which we intend to win, and the others, too." -John F. Musk :)

http://er.jsc.nasa.gov/seh/ricetalk.htm


One viewpoint I haven't see talked about is that Mars+ not only reduces extinction dangers via redundancy but also stabilizes Earth's geo-political landscape by extending the notion of local. A widening of the overton window.

Mars could be a place to start again, to get things right without all the historical cruft. And the culture, the kind of person who would take that kind of risk has to be interesting. We have examples of this turning out well from the past.

Back on Earth, this would have a uniting effect by completely changing the playing field. I expect Fox News would call for something to be done about those anarcho-socialist martians and the superiority of pure Earthicans. Paranoid military planners will be concerned about scenarios where Mars attacks earth, especially with the outflow of all those entrepreneurial, intelligent, individualistic, explorer psyches. Sounds dreary right? But at last we would be thinking at a global level!


I don't believe in this at all.

I think it is probable that China start to colonize Mars before US has the ability to. Next, they start to claim area after area, while also dominating the earth economy. It will not stabilize the geo-political landscape - it will complicate it.


I'm an American, but I don't feel US has the god-given right to be the only super-power in the solar system for the next few hundred years.

If China establishes colonies, good for them. When England colonized America, it began the downfall of Spains empire (more or less), but no one is crying that Spain didn't become the global power it 'should' have become.


That's the spirit! To hell with us!

Did it ever occur to you that:

1. No Chinese would ever think such self-hating thoughts.

and

2. Such thoughts did not originate from your own reasoning, but were learned through various channels?

It's not like it matters, as Martian colonization is less likely than human extermination via a robot takeover, but still...


1. While I happen to be American, not all of "us" on HN are. In fact, I have a friend from China who is part of the HN community.

2. How is wishing that all of humanity makes progress rather than just your own country self-hateful? Isn't that the ideal?

3. I know a lot of Chinese people who went to the U.S. for undergrad and really care about both countries, which is a counterexample to your #1.


you have to wonder if the US govt has thought of that. Fear of another nation has spurred great advances in technology.


Perhaps. Or more likely private entities end up on mars first. One of us or someone in between is right. I hope however things end up being is close to my viewpoint =).


Have you read Red Mars by Kim Stanley? The first 100 people to Mars start to do what you suggest: start over with a clean slate without all the historical cruft.

And this works at first because most of the first 100 people are scientists, engineers and others of that sort. But after some time there are strong political moves made on Earth from countries that don't want to be left out of Mars. Rich oil shiekhs make large contributions to martian mining efforts as long as certain Muslims can relocate to Mars. Then things turn south pretty quickly.


That assumes that going to Mars is anything other than pointless, aside from the inspirational value.


Most inspiring capitalist on Earth. With the ressources he won on the last biz, he shoots further each time. Now he takes it where NASA & Government left it, and puts money & private interests at work to go for... Mars

Edit: I am no native english speaker but seems to me Musk personifies the expression "pushing the envelope"


I agree with you completely. He is a truly remarkable man. As an aside, that is the correct use of the phrase, in case you were wondering.


That gap between the effects that the work Musk is doing could have and the effects of most startups are attempting to do is incredible.

He makes you want to step up whatever is it that you're working on.


One of the more important meta things he's doing is calling BS on the dull Soviet apparatchik MBA mentality.


I cannot believe how right this guy is about absolutely every single thing.


I think that every time I hear him or read about him. It's astonishing and inspiring to see someone so successful have such an optimal perspective.

And beyond that, he acts on it on a very large scale!


I'm a huge fan, but there is one big thing Musk might be wrong about: there's a substantial risk that his party-line views on CO2 will eventually look naive instead of visionary. I sincerely believe he's one of the good guys, though, so I hope history won't judge him too harshly for it. (Given HN's mostly party-line views on CO2, I hope I won't be judged too harshly for this comment.)


If it helps, I bet his ex-wife disagrees. :-)

I'm a Musk fanboy myself, but there's always someone with a different opinion.


Wasn't he responsible for PayPal? I'm not even sure a trip to Mars would make up for that.


Musk was responsible for PayPal. However, he wasn't responsible for the mess it turned in to. Musk even mentioned in an interview that he PayPal has gotten much worse than when it started out. Features that were in their minds since PayPal was founded still haven't been implemented to this day. It's kind of disappointing, seeing how it could have been a great device to speed up payments worldwide.


Go to Mars. I'll at least watch the video. We need the wild west with space helmets. We need big impossible goals. Or else it's just us here talking and warring over one marble running out of raw materials.

I am encouraged by the recent progresses. The upcoming rover landing is a big test. If they can master robotic rocket landings and material transport on the surface we are making progress.

My wife has set a rule that no children we have are allowed to leave the planet before they are 18.


As cool of a guy as Elon seems like, I find myself way more excited about what Planetary Resources is doing.

I get the space tourism aspect. People want to try new things, and especially things no one has ever done before. But that aside, I don't really get why we, as a species, should be expending such enormous effort trying to send a few live human specimens off the planet at this point-- not while we can develop totally awesome robotics technology that leverages the resources of outer space to usher in the post-scarcity era right here, in the totally best place in the universe for a human being to live.

I know we don't have to choose one or the other, but I wish someone with Elon's charisma was out there pulling for the "Space sucks, send robots" angle.


I think it depends on your end goal regarding space travel.

If your end goal is to mine resources in space, then yes, using humans seems like a waste of time and money.

However, if your goals are more along the lines of colonizing other planets, or setting up research stations on other planets, than dealing with issues around transporting humans through space is more important.


At the moment, isn't the bottleneck our colonization ability, rather than our transport ability? We've gotten to the moon multiple times, but nobody has solid plans to build a permanent moon colony.


Robots still need a launch vehicle.


I don't think Planetary Resources has any chance without major breakthroughs in launch and propulsion.


We need both. And more.


I saw Buzz Aldrin talk. He said that we have to make three successful manned missions to Mars and back before we can think of colonizing it. Three indicates we have solved the fundamental issues of safety, sanity [1], and propulsion. I believe Elon Musk and SpaceX will do it.

[1] Russia has begun training astronauts for the 500-day project by experimenting with placing them in isolation


> "There must be some ability to experiment to advance the state of the art. In the early days of aviation there was a great deal of experimentation and a high death rate. We don't want that — the public would not be accepting — but by the same token we can't have a situation where no deaths are ever allowed, because that would put innovation in a coffin too."

Whoa. Talk about a cold equation. I can't make up my mind whether I'm impressed or creeped out that he's willing to go public with statements like that. He's definitely laying bare his thought process, right down to factoring in public reaction.


So it's okay for people to risk their lives deep sea diving, climbing Everest, etc., but not here?

It's not like the people doing this wouldn't know exactly what they were doing and how dangerous it was.


I'm really more surprised that he's willing to go public with the fact he considers "some deaths" an acceptable byproduct of what his company is doing, because if they do happen, it can and probably will be used to paint him callous and possibly to call him responsible.

Basically, he's coming across as somewhat unapologetically nerdy - he's giving a pragmatic answer, prefering to be blunt rather than sugar-coating it. But it's a sort of short-term pragmaticism, because it can hurt what he's trying to do in the long run. I sort of like it, but at the same time it's so unusual for a man in his position that I can't help but feel surprised, and possibly put-off. It's more of a comment on how PR-optimized CEO behavior has conditioned my expectations and how Musk challenges them, I guess.


Maybe malaise of current generations can be best summarized as the lack of willingness to take such risks. Do you think that people flying the first planes didn't have similar thoughts? What about those first crossing the Atlantic oceans?

As with an generation there are those who are not complacent, those who will take the risks needed to move us forward. Now they just have the ability to communicate the desire to a large number of people quickly.

Many test pilots probably have flown with far less assurance than he will have should he go. Man breaking the sound barrier was an inevitability and I bet there were more than enough ready to try, the same will be when it comes to going to other planets. Mr Musk is just putting it out there now


I think it's fine. Most people, space nerds or not, realize that rockets sometimes go boom. Unconsciously, we all recognize danger when we see it. The problem is that we want to be placated, so when someone comes along and says "the Space Shuttle is perfectly safe" most people want to believe it, even though deep down they really don't.

Saying that "yes, that thing you think is dangerous probably is, but we're going into this willing to take the risk" will be accepted by most people because it's what they intuitively believe anyway . For an example of this, just look at NASCAR.


"PR-optimized CEOs" usually build shoe factories, not Mars landers.


He also prefaced that with the statement that he'd be willing to undertake the first mission. He's not just ok with "some deaths", he's willing to risk his own life.


And if he had claimed it was perfectly safe and people died, what then? I think admitting the truth up front is the better long term strategy here.


Thats not cold.

As long as his company causes less deaths securing a future, as the army needs to protect the present, nobody should complain.


When I first watched the movie Prometheus my first thought was that there is no friggin way we are going to be traveling planets and have that level of advanced technology by 2089. After listening to Elon Musk and seeing the types of steps he is taking, perhaps Prometheus was not as far fetched as I originally thought.


We need more entrepreneurs like this guys, really trying to solve hard problems that can secure the long lasting existence of humanity.


Id argue this can only be done by successfull serial entrepreneurs that are already free to do anything. Even Musk started small on the internet :)

IMO Richard Branson and Bill Gates are of equal caliber.


I thought we needed more twitter-like services...


The long lasting existence of humanity requires a team effort. It is laughable to believe that an individual can do it.


Our team needs leaders. Nobody said they had to work alone.


Bah, Mars. I'd rather live on the Moon. Less gravity, closer to Earth.

Both places require pressure suits, but the Moon is a hard vacuum, which means you can do the usual vacuum industry tricks, while Mars has just enough atomosphere to rule out vacuum applications, but not enough atmosphere to breathe. Maybe in five thousand years we will have terraformed a breathable atmosphere, but in the near future it will be a neat place to plant a flag, like the top of Everest, but certainly not a place you'd like to live.


I think its actually harder to live long-term on the moon than mars, although much easier to get too. With no atmosphere and a 28 day sun cycle, there's lots of radiation and heat to deal with along with that 14 day night where solar doesn't work. The rovers that are on mars right now wouldn't last long on the moon at all.


>"I think it's really important that we stop sending college and graduate students back to their home countries. If you're trying to create a company, it's like baking a cake. You have to have all the ingredients in the right proportion. There's certain special skills, especially in advanced engineering, that are the limiting factor in creating new companies; we send these people home after training them in our graduate schools.

One of the toughest things I've found is to recruit top-notch manufacturing talent. That's where I've had to go overseas. For a few decades, it just wasn't where the smartest kids in the class in America went. We had far too many smart people in the U.S. go into finance and law!"

Interesting. I thought only U.S. citizens were allowed to work for SpaceX, but Elon actually had to go overseas to recruit top-notch manufacturing talent.

With the introduction of multiple bills recently to retain foreign talent such as the STEM Jobs Act, Startup Act 2.0, STARS Act, The Fairness for High-Skilled Immigrants Act, it's good to see some progress made to solve this problem.


I remember having a series of books as a kid, iirc they were titled, "world of tommorow", or something like that. They talked about big-vision things; fusion, transportation, asteroid mining, and terraforming Mars by planting genetically-engineering algae on it's polar caps. Glad to see us finally taking steps toward that vision.


A couple of observations:

1 Where will that electricity come from? - I think solar will be the largest source [he owns a solar company, SolarCity].

With someone like Elon Musk it's believable that "he owns a solar company" is not a disclosure of bias, it's putting his money where his mouth is.

2 He doesn't come off as ideological at all (eg government vs corporate technology) except where relevant to his goal. He's trying to make electric cars & go to mars. Those are the areas where he's thrying to have an impact, here he has strong opinions. Otherwise, he lives in the world as it is. He doesn't get baited into comments on the political, financial or regulatory structure beyond where it applies to the stuff he's doing


I love how lucid and articulate Musk comes across as in these interviews. He's a great spokesperson for entrepreneurs and technologists, and he's cool to boot. I'm sure a generation of kids will be inspired by his example.



The next-page links are small and easy to miss, so here's the full article on one page:

http://www.latimes.com/news/opinion/commentary/la-oe-0801-mo...


Aim for the sky and you'll reach the ceiling. Aim for the ceiling and you'll stay on the floor.


What Elon Musl do with SpaceX is cool but he would be more interesting for all the people if he stayed in Tesla and has the same vision!


I watched an interview ("fireside chat", they called it) of him early in July, and he was talking about this very thing. Basically he said that he loves both SpaceX and Tesla, but he realizes that SpaceX has the potential for much greater impact on humanity as a whole than Tesla. He also said that, for this reason, if there ever comes a time when he must focus his energy on one company, it would be SpaceX.




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