Space X Heralds New Era of Travel

Elon Musk, founder of Space X, talks with ENGINEERING.com’s Todd Sierer about the company’s plans for space travel. Space X launched the first commercial space flight to the International Space Station at the end of May 2012. This conversation provides great context for this historic event, including Space X’s long term plans for a colony on Mars.
 
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Transcript For This Video

Todd Sierer: So we are here at the USA science and engineering festival with engineering.com and we are sitting down here with Elon Musk. In our previous video we spoke about his work with Tesla motors and the need to innovate and invent interesting arena. I'd like to ask a little bit about commercial space exploration, space transit. I think a lot of people in the last few years, it sounds as if were abandoning space travel. That's the news right, NASA is no longer doing spaceflight and itÆs going away. I think space X lets us know thatÆs a different story. What do you see as the present day situation with space travel and weÆre at a festival full of young adults. What potential careers do you see for them in the coming years?

Elon Musk: We are at the dawn of a new era of space exploration and one in which is going to have a very significant commercial space component to it, in fact will be primarily commercially driven. And if of think of the beginning when the Internet really took off, it was when commercial companies got involved and that was around the ninety four, ninety five era with Netscape. So I think were kind of at that inception point for space. I think we're going to see the rapid exploration of space technology and I think we're finally going to push the boundaries of space again and go beyond the moon in, in fact to Mars. The goal of space x is to develop the technologies necessary to make like multi-planetary and establish self-sustaining settlements on Mars. And ultimately make life truly multi-planetary and I think that's one of the most important things that we could possibly do. Because that will more than anything ensure the continuance of life as we know it and ensure that the light of consciousness on earth is not extinguished.

Todd Sierer: Wow

Elon Musk: Plus it will be the greatest adventure ever.

Todd Sierer: Fantastic except for the three years of travel part.

Elon Musk: No it's six months, six months maximum. It will be six months initially and then overtime we could reduce it to under a month.

Todd Sierer: Wow, that's fantastic. Now so here's a question on the idea of Mars exploration. If you think about 100 years ago we were just learning how to fly and it was blowing our minds to be blown one hundred feet in the air. Today were thousands of miles, satellites thousands of millions and billions of miles away or whatever. We're orbiting Earth, weÆre going to the Moon. How long do you think until we get men to travel to Mars?

Elon Musk: Well I think, I think it's going to be as soon as ten but no later than 20 years from now, that's my view.

Todd Sierer: And it's very interesting and I think it's very exciting. There isnÆt that same charge I think that we had in the 60s when our nation said were sending a man on the Moon in this decade. It put a box around letÆs get together on this and I think with Mars and I think in a lot of people's minds its very far away off.

Elon Musk: Yes it is. Well there's no chance that humanity will get to Mars by the traditional government methods, the cost is just too high, nor is it I think necessarily relevant because doing another flags and footprint mission to mars is not that important. it's notable, it will set another high altitude record but it's not going to affect the destiny of humanity in a meaningful way. What will affect the destiny of humanity is the establishment of a permanent civilization on Mars that would dramatically affect the future.

Todd Sierer: Why would companies, what would be the government motivation? What motivates a company? What motivates the commercial backing behind establishing those colonies? What do companies get out of that?

Elon Musk: You've hit upon obviously an important problem because and certainly once there is a colony established on Mars and thereÆs interplanetary commerce of course then there is a very powerful force and function for commerce. But until there is a such a thing established there was no force and function somebody has to decide to do it and that's why I chose to start space X first actually before tesler because there is no direct economic force and function itÆs just has to be that someone thinks that it's important and so they try and do it.

Todd Sierer: So as soon as we get a Dunkin' Donuts on mars were set.

Elon Musk: As soon as there's a base on Mars there will be enormous opportunity for companies to establish themselves on Mars and to service the interplanetary commerce.

Todd Sierer: That's fascinating. We have been talking with Elon Musk the man that they based the Tony Stark's character on Iron Man If I understand right. That's pretty awesome, that's a pretty awesome comparison. You can check out more videos with the interviews weÆve done on engineering.com as well as learn about other amazing engineering and science celebrities that have been here at the USA science and engineering festival. Elon thank you so much for your time, I really appreciate it.