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Interview of ELON MUSK

CEO of SpaceX and Tesla Motors
Chairman of the Board, Henry L. Stimson Center
BLOOMFIELD: Well, good afternoon everybody. Welcome to the Chairman’s Forum.
Thanks for coming to Stimson on a rainy day. I’m Linc Bloomfield. Maybe somewhere in
the outer galaxies there’s intelligent life that knows how to come into our orbit and then
safely land on the surface of the Earth. But in all of human history only one human being
has ever done this without a government sort of leading the way, and he’s sitting next to
me. So welcome, Elon Musk.
MUSK: Thank you.
BLOOMFIELD: It’s an honor. One of America’s real pioneers and entrepreneurs. Here
at Stimson we talk a lot about policy. We talk about governments, we come from … some
of us our old enough to come from a 20th century mentality that governments seem to set
policy. But in the 21st century we’re realizing that non-governmental actors often are out
in front changing things. And as we’ll hear, I’m going to give a little bit of your
background before we start to talk about space.
You’ve actually changed things in the way we use the internet, you’re changing
the game in space, you’re changing the way we use energy, and all of those are things that
Washington people find themselves chasing the policy implications. So to have an
innovator entrepreneur, I think, fits right into the theme of Chairman’s Forum. So again,
we’re honored to have you. Thank you for taking the time.
MUSK: Absolutely, thanks for having me.
BLOOMFIELD: I know that you made an important announcement an hour ago, and
I’m going to get to that. But first let me just introduce our guest. Mr. Elon Musk was born
and raised in South Africa, came to Canada as a teenager and then came to the United
States, where he is a US citizen. As a youth computer programmer at the age of 12, [he]
created and sold the software for a space game, and made a little money off of it. And
then, just to quickly touch on the other innovations, a company called Zip2, which
created online content publishing software for news organizations, you co-founded which became PayPal Secure E-commerce Logic, which of course is used
everywhere now. In 2002 [he] founded Space Exploration Technologies, known as
SpaceX. You’re not only the CEO but the Chief Technology Officer which is, I think,
very interesting. We’ll talk about the line of rockets, we knew about the Falcon 1 and the
Falcon 9, [and] we’re going to hear a little bit more in a moment. And then, in 2004 [he]
founded Tesla Motors … co-founder, chairman, and CEO [of] the electric vehicle

consciousness. and space. differentiation of plants and animals. BLOOMFIELD: That’s quite interesting. when I was very young. space just seemed really cool. I’ve been fortunate enough to get involved in all three of those areas. But when I was in college. But I think. mammals. because otherwise it will simply be unaffordable. I like lipstick. also on that scale. energy efficiency technologies. a photovoltaic products and services company started in 2006. video games. sustainable energy (both production and consumption). life going from the oceans to land. . We can talk about that with the space station and whatnot. And the three things I could come up with were the internet. And if there’s something that is important enough to arguably fit on the scale of evolution of life itself. Do you think that the United in California. So there’s a geographic reach to your interest in space. and space exploration. you can look at the major milestones and say. and ultimately become a multi-planet species. are not going to be really important in the long-term. it’s fair to say that it should be considered important. So you see some themes here: internet. But I didn’t expect to be involved in space when I was young. if you break it down and first say: “Why is it important that life become multi-planetary?” If you look at the nature of importance itself. Right now you’re involved in doing contract activities. on the evolution of life itself. And so before we talk about the announcement. but more than what we spend on lipstick. there’s the advent of single-celled life. And if you don’t mind me exploring that issue a little bit. But you see a future vision. and deserves some small portion of our resources to accomplish. about space? What did space mean to you? MUSK: Well. those are kind of the big ones. the further you zoom out. as a young person. As it turns out. And [he] is also chairman of SolarCity. would fit life becoming multi-planetary. I decided I wanted to be involved in things that would have a significant impact on the future of humanity. It’s important to appreciate that there is a very fundamental cost barrier to life becoming multi-planetary. particularly the extension of life beyond Earth to multiple planets. multi-cellular life. It would be at least comparable to life going from the oceans to land. Things that may seem important in the moment. I think in order to … well in order for humanity to become a true spacefaring civilization. On the grander scale. but perhaps we can bound it quite easily by saying it should be much less than what we spend on healthcare. or even private sector entities. and use the lens of history as a guide … and generally the lens of history. e-commerce. And I’m not talking about a huge portion. I’m curious: What was it that captured your imagination. I think we have to harness the power of free enterprise. the more the important milestones remain and the less important ones disappear. will be accessing outer space at some point in the future? And how far are we from that vision? MUSK: Yeah. if you think about them.

We gained a lot of knowledge and understanding of the universe from the Hubble. where there’s not an obvious direct economic feedback loop. for humanity to create a self-sustaining civilization on Mars—extraordinarily difficult. It didn’t necessarily translate to economics for one particular .2 or . BLOOMFIELD: Physics and economics. and to take action to make life multi-planetary while we can. because this is the first time in the 4 billion year history of Earth that it’s been possible—at all—for life to extend beyond Earth. If someone were sitting in this audience. and attachment to the vision of space and the continuum of human and planetary evolution.] BLOOMFIELD: Well. for example. in so many ways. my expectation is they might think. that kind of thing. demonstrated the MBA capability. just barely. I have a dual undergraduate in physics and economics. But I think the wise thing to do is to not assume it will be open for a long time. “can I work for the air force?” You’re a businessman. have generally joined into sort of governmental efforts until this point. That window could be open for a long time or it could be open for a short time. I think you’ve. a young person who shares a similar aspiration. do you think that private sector is on a par with the government and their capacity to aspire to these kinds of accomplishments? Where do the government and non-government come together? Which one has the more … Why would you invest in one more than the other? MUSK: Well.] I think lipstick’s very important. And it is hard to say how long that window will be open. BLOOMFIELD: Well people who have had a similar aspiration. I think that government plays an important role in funding things that have a small amount of benefit to a large portion of the population. because that’s where the action was. and a vision. basic science. like the Hubble. And the question is … That wouldn’t appear to have been something you would naturally do. but possible.] [Laughter. “can I get a job at NASA?” Or.[Laughter. Sort of. But maybe it’s . And it’s possible. the frontiers of exploration. But it’s nonetheless an important thing to do that’s helpful to everyone. And I do think that we should not delay this action.3 percent of our GDP. something like that is warranted. MUSK: [Laughs. you have an MBA … MUSK: I actually don’t have an MBA.

more capitalist than we were … and then. There are a lot of commercial satellites launched every year. as they were under the previous administration. There are obviously very clear examples of this in comparing something like East and West Germany and North and South Korea. It only takes money from the people. we put a man on the moon in 1969 … a lot of studies in Washington have talked about how the space industrial base is shrinking in the United how we’re sort of losing our lead in space. … but restrictive. if you will. Do you have a view on whether the industrial base … are we shrinking? Is America’s lead shrinking. where North Korea. thanks to SpaceX. the economic outcome per capita was about five times higher in West Germany —arguably more than five times—but at least five times higher in West Germany than in East. I mean. there was more restrictive export controls on satellites. which remain. has no money. After certain events in the 90s involving US companies in China. And East and West Germany. And so there’s an international space industry. they absorbed almost the entire commercial launch market.] Sometimes people forget that that’s really what occurs. Government. between Europe and Russia and. There are more commercial satellites launched every year . And with the former Soviet Union and their action becoming. for example. in a lot of ways. Or North and South Korea is an even more stark example. Places where you have essentially the same people. and no more. and South Korea is incredibly prosperous. they’re sort of a lot more socialist than we are. and where does your activity fit into that picture? MUSK: Well it’s certainly true that over the past few decades America’s lead has really … well it went away like 20 years ago and returned last year. under review in the White House. So when there is a benefit that accrues to the people as a whole. so it made sense that it would be funded by the government. commercial satellites. by the way. and yet they had that huge output difference. And so you want to always watch that dial—that allocation of resources dial—and make sure that government doesn’t become too large a portion of the economy. BLOOMFIELD: Well in the space sector. if you look back in the last … going back to the 60s. people undergo starvation. So it makes sense to minimize the role of government such that government does only what it has to do. to a lesser degree China and India. [Laughter. where NASA was in its heyday. but two different systems of government. And it’s not as though West Germany was particularly capitalist. But government is inherently inefficient. In the 80s … America used to do almost all the commercial launches. But funded by the government just means funded by the people. in your view. then it’s fair that the money should be drawn from the people as a whole to match that benefit. I believe.

We knew about the Falcon 1 Rocket. so the big announcement we just made today was for our Falcon Heavy Launch Vehicle. that have a small amount of benefit to a large number of people. So in about two to four years. like I said earlier. So it’s really quite an epic vehicle. BLOOMFIELD: So in economic terms. on a percentage mid-term? MUSK: Well. also in pushing the frontier of exploration. what are the potential uses? . So I expect that. due almost entirely to SpaceX. Government will still play a very important role. which is the most competitive system in the world. by at least a factor of two or three. And yet the United States has assured that market has been. So government will still play a very important role. It’ll put more than twice the payload capability of the space shuttle into orbit. Now there’s a lead time of anywhere from two to four years between when you win the contract and when you do the launch. looking forward in the near. Can you tell us what’s coming next? MUSK: Yeah. So I would expect that the percentage of SpaceX activity that is commercial will increase over time. the United States won more launch contracts—commercial launch contracts—than any other country. or scientific use? Where’s the market. BLOOMFIELD: You’ve just come from an announcement. the Falcon 9 was just depicted in the film. We will see some market expansion occur. I would expect the commercial market to actually increase. But I think that’s because at SpaceX we’re really harnessing the power of American free enterprise. BLOOMFIELD: And what kind of a payload do you expect to be launched off of this vehicle? I mean. In fact. as we are able to lower the cost of access to space. sort of. particularly permissions.than there are US government satellites. which is going to be the most capable vehicle of any kind on Earth. like I said. But in terms of market size. and has twice the thrust of the biggest Russian rocket and the biggest US rocket. who are the bigger users. which we’re doing in a very significant way. looking forward a few years? Is it commercial use of space? Is it government and military use. that there will be more commercial satellite business plans that work than was previously the case. negligible to zero. So. we’ll be doing more commercial launches than any other country. there are actually more commercial launches even today than there are US government launches. it’ll have more payloads to orbit than any rocket apart from the Saturn V Moon Rocket. But last year. but where isn’t the direct economic feedback loop. and applying a mode of operation that is closer to Silicon Valley than typical government contractors. [it’s] twice as big as the Russian Proton and Boeing Lockheed Delta IV Heavy.

if I’m not mistaken. So this is not speculative. . you could arguably do two of the largest satellites at a time. I think … I wouldn’t worry about US satellites being launched on any vehicles except maybe China is a bit dodgy. BLOOMFIELD: Is that conceivable. because I have a bit of a background in export controls. Your company will be the cargo delivery vehicle to the international space station. you’ll do twelve resupply missions. and then launch probably in 2013. a payload to a launch vehicle? How much do they need to know about what’s on the bus in order to make sure that they don’t destroy it. I’m curious. from a policy standpoint.MUSK: There’s a wide range of potential uses. However. need to worry a little bit about whether it has … whether it can control its technology and still get it launched reliably? MUSK: Well. or that they deploy it properly? Is it highly sensitive information? MUSK: Well … I think … It’s only providing enough information to know how to integrate the satellite onto the rocket. or … BLOOMFIELD: But could you deploy two satellites with one launch? MUSK: Oh sure. BLOOMFIELD: Well you’re the Chief Technology Officer. there’ll be no more space shuttle. And so that’s been somewhat privatized. no problem. there are monitors often … And so after the space shuttle endeavor takes its mission at the end of this month. where we’re doing eight or nine satellites per flight. Does the US. So that’s really the only meaningful concern. BLOOMFIELD: So there needs to be … I mean the export control regime looks at the nationalities of the workers. certain countries have a track record of absconding with intellectual property. BLOOMFIELD: Per flight? MUSK: Yeah. Certainly Falcon Heavy can launch the largest government and commercial satellites with ease. And so I think it’s perhaps not a good idea to put them in close proximity to anything that’s any advanced US space technology. We can deploy … Well in fact. I don’t think that necessarily reveals anything particularly proprietary. we have the launch contract to do the next generation Iridium Constellation. technologically? MUSK: Oh yeah. absolutely. In fact. How sensitive is the information that your engineers have when they marry a bus to a rocket launch. their access to certain work areas. we expect this to be on the launch pad at [unclear] next year. and wish I had known a lot more about the fine details.

BLOOMFIELD: If your engineers in California can come up with a bigger and better launch vehicle. or anything else that’s under development by a significant margin. or might there be a new baseline. we’re better than anything else that exists. In this town. and die. and they’ve not yet figured out how to make that engine themselves. Facebook. . that’s because. but there’s little danger of that. I mean. in Silicon Valley. As far as I can tell. if you will. Particularly given that our rate of evolution of our technology is very fast. a unique situation.And I’m not releasing the Russians. but at least I’m not aware of anything that poses a threat to SpaceX. or die. [who] tried to steal US rocket technology. So the Russians are obviously not too worried about that. Apple … Who are their international competitors? Can you name one? BLOOMFIELD: No. MUSK: Right. a vehicle that is better than the Russians. their rocket technology has been better than ours. so I’m not sure exactly what they would steal.] BLOOMFIELD: That’s a different language.] [Laughter.] BLOOMFIELD: There’s a bit of a cultural difference here. of competitive launch technologies emerging? MUSK: I’m not aware of anything that has the potential to beat our technology. the Boeing Lockheed’s Atlas V vehicle uses a Russian main engine. at least until SpaceX. you’re sort of very used to this mentality of “you innovate fast. So we would certainly be cautious about exposing our technology to the Russians. there’s now for the first time in a long time. [Laughter. or there could be some organization that starts up that’s new. Intel. With the advent of SpaceX and our Falcon family of rockets. it’s “you innovate fast.” MUSK: [Laughs. In fact. MUSK: Exactly. There could be some secret development that I’m not aware of.” If you think of the national champions—or the international champions—that have grown out of Silicon Valley: Google. are there entities around the world who could be doing the same thing. And actually. and doing it within a cost-level that competes as well with SpaceX and with others? Is this a one-off. Cisco.

MUSK: So. And we’ve been fortunate in that. it’s curious to me … it strikes one as a high-risk profession. and hope it does? MUSK: We always aim for success. and then there are the Special Forces. how big is the work force at SpaceX? MUSK: We’re just under 1.300.] No. and others. If a rocket goes awry … we’ve seen films of Chinese launches in the past. And where do you find space capable engineers? How do you grow a space company in America? MUSK: I was in Silicon Valley for ten years before moving down to L. Roughly. BLOOMFIELD: I see. BLOOMFIELD: 1. BLOOMFIELD: I mean. our last four missions have been four consecutive successes. And the reason I did it in Southern California is because Southern California has the biggest concentration of space engineers in the world. BLOOMFIELD: Who have been laid off? Or who are moving from one thing to another? MUSK: SpaceX hires at the top two or three percent of the space profession. we never intentionally blow up a rocket. the last one was particularly complex because it was a test of our Falcon Heavy Launch Vehicle and our .300 people. BLOOMFIELD: Special operations… MUSK: SpaceX is Special Forces. So think of SpaceX like special … you have regular army. [Laughter.] BLOOMFIELD: Or does it all just come down to one vehicle. they’re probably highly expensive. and it’s supposed to work. And particularly. they make insurance companies very nervous. it’s possible that we’d hire someone who was laid off if they were laid off for reasons of seniority and not merit. And while they make fascinating viewing. Is it high risk to have a rocket company? Do you test launch things and let them blow up just to find things out? MUSK: [Laughs.A. to start SpaceX. But not otherwise.BLOOMFIELD: Your operations are just outside of Los Angeles.

I want to just mention the military side of space. But now that we’ve had two successes with our Falcon 9 vehicle. And that’s tough. our ability to conduct military operations is integrally tied to space. since it is a capability the world doesn’t have yet. And then as far as civil space missions. BLOOMFIELD: So it’s both a civil and potentially military and intelligence use. They’re just a very conservative organization. There’s a lot of effort that is—that is not irreversible—but it’s to prepare for contingencies in which we are threatened in space. in the Executive Branch. and there’s been doctrinal development that says space is a domain. which orbited the Earth a couple times and then touched down just off the coast of California. in the worst case. as a private sector space player. one of the things military planners talk about is. in these fastmoving crises. And so. That was the first time that a private company has brought something back from orbit. is that something you would look at from a SpaceX perspective? . It allows them to launch bigger satellites. in terms of sending probes to outer planets. and now that we’re coming out with Falcon Heavy … And Falcon Heavy is twice as powerful as anything the air force currently has access to. and hasn’t had since Saturn V. And I guess my question is.Dragon Spacecraft. perhaps doing something like a Mars sample return. If you have a launch vehicle that could potentially put several assets up quickly. and sort of the substantial effort that’s put into it in Washington? Is that something SpaceX would potentially contribute to. military. absolutely. We certainly see the launching of air force NRO-type satellites as an important part of our future business. it must be protected. the air force effort? MUSK: Yeah. but I’m very optimistic that we will soon have such contracts. MUSK: Yes. these are really enabled by our Falcon Heavy capabilities. I think it’s really going to open up a world of possibilities in all of those arenas. A lot of work is done in the Pentagon. we have security interests in space. our economy is tied to space. there’s no going back. some will say space must be defended. sort of. BLOOMFIELD: Right. there are only half a dozen nations that have achieved that. in the Congress. And they talk about the ability to reconstitute a capability very quickly. BLOOMFIELD: Well. civil. and get your view on this. destroyed. and commercial. That’s where we began. do you have a view on what’s happening with the military reliance on space. the worse case in which assets are either being degraded or denied or. or potentially do multiple satellites on a single flight. We don’t have any air force under our launch contracts yet. which can obviously create debris in orbit with very long term consequences.

that can be a good defense against a laser or something like that. which can be turned on on very short notice. so the US has done reasonably well in the commercial satellite front. to solve problems. I think in terms of. too. In fact. So just replacing them fast is not going to really do the trick. where it’s got to resist tremendous heat to prevent getting vaporized on reentry. I think competition is always a good thing. if you will. BLOOMFIELD: It seems like the Pentagon has. which you sort of marked at a very low point.MUSK: Yeah. MUSK: Yeah. At SpaceX we’re very supportive of national security goals as well as civil space and commercial goals. I’m not sure that other countries have that yet. which is to have a powerful heat shield. But like I said. much better in the satellite … competing in terms of the satellite market than in the launch market. Now. You really need to have satellites up there that can effectively dodge incoming missiles. there’s a solution to that. I think we really need to pay closer attention to having defense systems on the satellite. the US has actually done relatively speaking. Orbital Sciences here in Virginia. BLOOMFIELD: I’m a little concerned about laser beams. . sort of. So that’s something that can … because I agree. and do you think competition and the increase to provide solutions like more resilient satellites. They probably will at some point in the future. you know? Because I think you can build ground-based anti satellite missiles a lot faster than you can launch satellites. I think you can … if you have a satellite with a powerful heat shield. and Boeing Space Satellites. you know. and does very well in the defense satellite side of things. because of the decline of the US space sector. as opposed to the sole source methodology? MUSK: Yeah. anti-satellite capability. you need to deal with missiles as well as directed energy weapons. that could be an interesting technology in defending against anti-satellite weapons. MUSK: Yeah. Basically being able to dodge missiles. our Dragon Spacecraft has a powerful heat shield for reentering. which used to be used in Southern California. or to sort of have a technological race. even starting 20 years ago. some sort of kinetic interceptor. now suggests the possibility there could be more of a competitive space sector back in the United States. It’s a little harder to do the directed energy weapon technology. Do you agree with that. But it’s much easier to just have a … BLOOMFIELD: ASAT. So the US actually does have a dominant share—or at least a substantial share—in the commercial satellite market with Loral Space Systems in Silicon Valley. so that’s something we suggested to the defense problem. absolutely.

Can I ask you. probably in about three years or so. we must still . How does a private entity that specializes in launch services … what do you see as the road ahead in terms of potential involvement with non-US players in space? MUSK: Do you mean in civil space missions? Sort of like science missions. peaceful cooperation in space. be carrying astronauts to the space station. SpaceX will take both American astronauts. the space shuttle retires this year. So. and even if there were national security consequences … Let’s say we owned all the oil. sort of. that kind of thing? BLOOMFIELD: Or governmental. and they saw an opportunity they could afford to use your launch service. absolutely. I hope you don’t mind if I turn to energy efficiency. I’m sure there are a lot of people who want to ask you questions. astronauts from other countries. but … MUSK: I think SpaceX will. NASA’s mission. even. As I mentioned earlier. It’s still finite. as well as private individuals to space. and some of it on a sensitive unilateral kind of basis. and probably more to come. and other satellite makers certainly want to take that market share away from the American companies. but do you have a view as to what the future could hold in terms of international space cooperation? Because certainly the national space policy. and it had no negative impact on the environment. because if it’s unsustainable. Chinese. even if you … even if there were no negative environmental consequences to the use of fossil fuels. it’s unsustainable. manned space missions. BLOOMFIELD: We’ve been talking about what the US can do.But I think the US needs to look at this as a constantly evolving market where European. But on an interim basis. I mean I’m just making this up. SpaceX takes over for the space shuttle as far as the cargo transport to and from the space station. in college I thought there were three areas that would most impact the future of humanity: internet. because you’ve got a lot of people driving electric vehicles. well. a mission behind the Tesla Motors? People sometimes focus on the sports car and what fun it is. and then space. what Tesla’s about is trying to help solve the consumption of energy problems. As you mentioned a moment ago. are very much geared to international cooperation. But I think at that point. and I agree it’s fun. But is there a larger view that you’re trying to change policy and change societal behavior on energy? MUSK: Yeah. But before we turn to those questions. the Russian Soyuz will carry American astronauts to the space station until we’re ready to take over. BLOOMFIELD: That’s very interesting. If there were a failure of a national program. we must have sustainable consumption of energy and production. sustainable energy (both production and consumption). what your view is on energy? Is there a purpose. I’ve driven it. So. In fact.

that really shows what is possible when you design the whole car as a system around electric power. or we will face economic collapse when the resources become scarce. the battery pack only has the equivalent of two gallons of gasoline worth of energy. and it is fundamentally very energy efficient to use electric vehicles. BLOOMFIELD: And there’s a longer-term vision of a third vehicle? MUSK: Yes. and then you just charge the car. great handling. low-priced car at high volume. . And even if you take power from a coal power plant. midvolume car. long range—as much range as you’d get from a gas tank—that really helped break people’s perception of what an electric car could be. and almost better acceleration than almost any other sports car—it uses less energy per mile than a Prius. You know. And that’s what generated the GM Volt. yes. in that when General Motors—when Bob Lutz of General Motors—saw the announcement about the Tesla Roadster. mid-priced car at mid-volume. So the simple three step strategy of Tesla was. which is a mid-price. and in turn the Nissan Leaf and the Chrysler move to electric vehicles. because people used to think of electric cars as these sort of ugly. so it’s entirely coal. although our Tesla Roadster is a fast sports car—fast. you can spend it in multiple ways. we need to keep up the momentum. when the world’s largest car company announces they’re going to go do an electric program. and you take into account transmission losses and charging losses and so forth. So the point of Tesla was to make a viable electric car that broke the paradigm of what people thought of as an electric car. they used to be the world’s largest car company. he took the press release. and said if a small company in California can do it.find a solution. So I think it’s had a good effect in that direction. In fact. and just how much more compelling it can be than a gasoline car. it’s still less than a Prius. So obviously we must find alternatives. And so Tesla is coming out with the step two. Of course. others tend to follow. And it had a powerful catalytic effect. So electric vehicles are something that is a long term sustainable option. so can we. So by making a sports car that was aesthetically pleasing. In fact. went down to his development team. And so. I think people will be quite pleasantly surprised by the Model S that’s coming out next year. because it allows for energy to be produced in a wide range of sustainable means. You can generate it in multiple ways. come out with a highpriced car at low volume. electricity’s sort of like cash. slow-moving golf carts. and say how much CO2 you generate per mile. I believe in electric transport. Because at the time they were. because stationary power plants are actually quite energy-efficient. very fast.

despite being a good-sized sedan (the external dimensions are roughly that of a 5 Series BMW or an E Class Mercedes). I should say. the question is: How fast is this moving.Three major technology iterations and then stepping up production volume by an order of magnitude in each case. the question is. as you know. BLOOMFIELD: Because. BLOOMFIELD: I see. we had about a one week or so slight interruption. MUSK: Yep. 1983. which is damn fast for a small company to grow at that rate. a Founder of the Arthur C. but we had special buffer inventory on hand. but also in facilities. and state your question clearly? Thank you. and yet does more than 20 percent greater range. which is 245 miles. and how fast can we expect leaps and bounds in battery storage? MUSK: Well. the Model S will have a 90 kWh battery pack at about the same volume. So the Model S is 50 percent bigger. How fast is the power density improving in either the lithium chemistries or alternative? The military is looking at battery-based energy efficiency in both the operational theatre. and Chrysler. If you look at the Tesla Roadster. about battery storage. BLOOMFIELD: And lithium ion is expensive—it’s lightweight. BLOOMFIELD: Well. . and with a dramatically lower cost per kWh. heavier than the Roadster. ATTENDEE: [Off mic. So the Model S. They’re a big consumer of energy. Ford. as a technology person. are you ready to face the crowd? I’m sure there are a lot of questions. BLOOMFIELD: Can I just ask whether the tragic events in Japan have impacted the supply of batteries from … global supply? MUSK: No. that has a 56 kilowatt hour (kWh) battery pack. MUSK: Sure. it will do 300 miles of range on a single charge. Well. Clark Foundation.] I’m [unheard]. so that’s pretty amazing. after GM. versus the Roadster. that it did not change our production at all. it’s moving pretty fast. but it’s expensive—and so. and costs much less than the Roadster. with that. batteries can do what they can do today. I saw a news clip last week that a major Wall Street bank predicted that Tesla Motors will become the fourth American major automobile company. Would you please identify yourself. and a much smaller car. I do want to ask you.

MUSK: Oh. So it’s kind of just in that medium zone that’s maybe 800 to a few thousand miles … that’s the orbit that we need to pay attention to. It’s not a problem today. and actually ends up being like a cleaning … it will sweep out orbital debris and eventually bring it back in. The day-night cycle is 28 days. That’s the reason I’d pick Mars. In lower orbit. . The moon is much smaller. thank you. So I consider the moon to be. the reason I favor Mars over the Moon is that Mars has really got the potential for a true planet-class civilization. which is sort of the medium Earth orbit altitudes. Mars in terms of a colony.BLOOMFIELD: [Pointing to mic. ATTENDEE: Just two quick questions. it’ll reenter and burn up. kind of. BLOOMFIELD: Another question? Sir. the atmosphere is still there to a certain degree. but it sucked. The Arctic is very close to Europe. and also the issue of sustainability of space and space debris. when one thinks of preserving the future of life as we know it. where all the debris is. and if you go out to geosynchronous orbit. but long-term it becomes a problem. Long-term it becomes a problem. and we can become a true multi-planetary civilization on Mars. if I could: One of the Moon vs. because it’s a planet. it would not be affected. And also. that’s just so far out there that it’s really … you don’t have to worry about it there either.] I’d like to congratulate you on receiving the Innovators Award this evening. But I do think it’s something that’s really only a very long-term problem. The moon is not a planet. So you really effectively have a fairly small habitable zone near the poles of the moon.] Here we go. It’s not something we need to worry about in a short period of time. and slow it down. So there’s not really a lower orbit debris problem. which I don’t think that’s realistic on the Moon.] That’s why America isn’t there. it’s much weaker in terms of natural resources. thank you. there’s a certain zone. and water ice is very rare there. It’s harder for us to adapt to because it’s got a much lower gravity. What thoughts do you have about avoiding the Kessler syndrome? MUSK: Sure. But Mars is a real planet. I’m honored to receive it. The Moon might still be affected. wait for the mic. One moment. [Laughter. Well. ATTENDEE: [On mic. analogous to the Arctic. In terms of all the debris. Mars is sufficiently far away that if something terrible happened to Earth.

Nobody could afford the journey. it’s no different than air flight. . so why doesn’t your air ticket cost half a billion dollars? It’s because they can use that plane thousands of times. turns out there is a continent out there. And really. but of course. With SpaceX. I’m a big believer in reusability. BLOOMFIELD: Madam in the front row. and that remains a fundamental long-term objective of SpaceX. maybe 200. In fact. But the cost of the vehicle is 50 million.3 percent of our GDP. automobile. the United States would not exist. which is an extension of the original architecture. You talk about needing to continue innovating fast. So it remains a fundamental goal of SpaceX. fundamental invention necessary to make life multi-planetary. I do not think it will occur in the absence of a fully reusable system. airplanes can be used repeatedly. ships can be used repeatedly. Defense Technology International Magazine.3 percent of the cost of a flight. it’s maybe 150. we can’t afford to go there. bicycle. what directions are you going to take that in? Are you going to go further into reusability? What do you think that space exploration needs as the next phases of innovation from SpaceX? MUSK: Yeah. we would not use that mode of transport. And that’s the difference between reusability. if you look at the cost of a propellant on a Falcon 9. A Boeing 747 costs maybe a quarter of a billion dollars. you need two of them for a round trip. And of course. and in fact. I think. they might have sent a few people as an exploratory thing. oh yes. but I don’t think we’re willing to spend 100 percent of our GDP on it.000 dollars at most.ATTENDEE (Bill Sweetman): Bill Sweetman. But in fact. since ships would be expendable you would need to tow your return ship behind you. So when you have the cost of the propellant . or whatever. then clearly there are a lot of efficiencies to be had if you can use that rocket more than once. And the reason for that is.000 dollars. every mode of transport can be used repeatedly. beyond Falcon 9 Heavy. And I think we can establish a self-sustaining civilization on Mars for something like . whether it’s plane. And going back to the founding of America. and if that were not the case. you know. if ships had not been reusable in the days of the Mayflower. a fully reusable rocket system. and not reusability. And. because it costs two ships every time we make the return journey. So it’s incredibly fundamental to have a reusable system. [Laughter] So they might have said. is the pivotal. train.

you talked about the heat shields on the Dragon. and I think with our Dragon R program. or duck with anything. I do think it gets difficult for companies to maintain a high productivity per person as they grow. and we were actually able to fire Dragon’s engines. We’re doing more things faster. Google is now having trouble. we’re . So I think we’re a little lower on productivity per person though. and having awareness and protection on that? Can we see it moving in that area? MUSK: Yeah. we also have a lot more employees. Dragon can be reused. have that start-up feel. due to communication issues. Are you running into that problem. duck with the space station. at SpaceX. So. some people say. actually. We have anyone-to-anyone communication. and reenter. You made some really interesting comments about some of the protective systems. and so on. say. and then productivity per person tends to decline as companies get beyond a certain scale. which is to take the Dragon Spacecraft that will be used for space station servicing. to minimize communication issues. because it’s got multiple redundant systems. or do you think you will. So that’s a step in the right direction of reusability. Dragon is basically a sophisticated satellite. you talk about innovation all the time. no problem. like I said. so there’s another question as to whether our productivity per person is increasing. to apply to the spacecraft manufacturing world. where there’s a lot of interest both in terms of military satellites and commercial satellites. because companies initially improve productivity per person due to specialization of labor. Justin Manger with Sojitz Corporation. So we do our best. even the first Dragon that we recovered in December from orbit can be flown many times. instead of. BLOOMFIELD: Questions? Sir? ATTENDEE (Justin Manger): Hi. that is the high-class problem. chain-of-command communication. MUSK: Right. Can we see a possibility that you would take some of that technology. I was just wondering if you’re worried as the SpaceX and Tesla grow. which we’re starting to see a fair bit of interest in. I actually think our rate of innovation is increasing. The heat shield can take several reentry events. it’s got the ability to duck with another … you know. and some of those innovations. innovating. which is extremely inefficient. I think we’ll start to see a fair bit of that happening. We recovered Dragon. And. and adapting that to commercial and other government applications. More sophisticated than most satellites.ATTENDEE (Andrea Maléter): Andrea Maléter with Futron. So certainly that’s an area of interest to us. as you grow? BLOOMFIELD: That’s what we call a high-class problem. and want to stay young.

Some people on Wall Street will think that’s just crazy. and we all live really great lives here in the US. [Laughter. absolutely. and what I should actually just do is milk the government and various commercial companies. MUSK: Yeah. possibly. which we will not do. So I want to make sure that I can ignore such things. And while I do think there’s likely to be some economic payoff by transporting large numbers of people and cargo to Mars. there’s a lot of discussion of unaffordability. and try to charge them as high as possible. we’re going week-to-week with continuing resolutions. or what message would you give to the Congress and the Executive Branch in this tough time that everyone’s slogging through. It’s really … What I want SpaceX to keep doing is working on the technologies necessary to create a self-sustaining civilization on Mars. and it has been since it took . first of all. I think. our total productivity and pace of innovation is faster than it has ever been. MUSK: I know. No one is talking about new things to spend a lot of money on.] ATTENDEE (Frank Mooring): You mentioned this morning that you’re thinking about taking SpaceX public before the end of next year. The United States is actually doing quite well. [Laughs. it requires a bit of long-term thinking.] That maybe goes beyond the quarterly cycle of Wall Street. And the US is still the world’s largest manufacturer. as someone who is really operating against a different vision and a different sort of time cycle? MUSK: Well. and realize that things are actually really freaking great. What advice. which I can only do if I’m the controlling shareholder. But since we have a lot more people. The long-term discussion is about what’s going to happen to this country if we can’t change the trajectory of debt. And we shouldn’t lose sight of that. but that you would like to retain a personal controlling interest in it because of some things that you want to do.trying to fix that. I wonder if you could elaborate a little bit about those personal objectives that tie you to keeping the controlling interest. BLOOMFIELD: Sir? ATTENDEE (Frank Mooring): Frank Mooring with Aviation Week. We’ve got a lot on our plate. BLOOMFIELD: Can I just piggyback on that with a Washington question? The mood in Washington is a bit grim. with a very short-term focus? What would you say to them. people ought to have some sense of perspective. that’s for sure.

you know. It was wonderful to have you. and cutting 25 percent of spending. because that’s obviously unsustainable. So on behalf of the Stimson Center. for example. that there are people out there who are pursuing a long-range vision that points to a lot of interesting and more sustainable vistas. for all of the debate about how to spend less in Washington. There seems to be some movement afoot to reign in government spending. . But if you wait ten minutes. We certainly need to decrease the amount of government spending. I would like to thank you very much for being my guest at Chairman’s Forum. and probably increasing the tax burden as well. I don’t know. The trillion dollar deficit thing. or any such country. there needs to be a meaningful decrease in government spending such that we do not have trillion dollar deficits. Musk. And it can’t be a little bit here. I applaud. it’s on a table. That’s like saying. That’s kind of what Congress often behaves like. actually. and they eat that cupcake. BLOOMFIELD: Well. I must say. Have you ever seen these delayed gratification tests? Apparently you can predict somebody’s future success by the degree to which they can partake in delayed gratification. that’s all you get. And it’s just going to get harder and harder if we don’t do it soon. around the edges. but we need to do both. the sky is blue. we now know. We do not want to be Greece. you can have three cupcakes. Thank you. the UK is taking the appropriate austerity measures. I think that that’s really important. hopefully Congress can display sufficient maturity and fortitude to make the right decision in this regard. after an hour of conversation. and it’s going to make that austerity even worse down the road. a hundred and some odd years ago. because our interest burden is going to … the amount of money we spend on interest is going to start getting bigger and bigger and bigger. The unemployment rate is decreasing … I think there are lots of reasons to be positive. “here’s this cupcake. We have to do that here. without being complacent. because we ought to vote people out who engage in such behavior. So running trillion dollar plus deficits … that is going to come back to haunt us like there’s no tomorrow. And to some degree the American people are responsible for this. They basically sacrifice tomorrow for today.over from England. So I think.” And some toddlers. Mr. they just go. effectively. If you eat it now. So we must make the hard decisions of reigning in government spending. or Portugal. where you can say. It’s so freaking obvious. we can’t solve it either by simply increasing taxes or by just cutting deficit. I liken it sort of to … it’s like toddlers with a cupcake. and that kind of thing.

MUSK: Thanks for having me. .