Elon Musk Addresses Boeing and Trump’s Race to Mars

Published on: 2017/12/13 - in Science & Tech

Astronaut on Mars

Elon Musk, the SpaceX and Tesla CEO who resided in Kingston as a student at Queen’s University, has addressed announcements from both Boeing and President Trump that they intend to fly humans to Mars.

Musk has been stating his own plans to fly humans to Mars for many years, including in a 2011 interview with the Wall Street Journal (below).
[SpaceX conversation begins at the 13:00 minute mark]

The genesis of his interest in Mars may go at least as far back as 2001, when he attended a Mars Society fundraiser.
[“Musk and Mars” section]

Last week, when Fortune magazine published an article entitled “Boeing CEO Says He’ll Beat Elon Musk to Mars”, Elon responded to the headline with two words: “Do it.”

Both Boeing and SpaceX have government contracts to fly rockets to the International Space Station.

On December 11, President Trump signed Space Policy Directive 1 at the White House, which NASA calls “a change in national space policy that provides for a U.S.-led, integrated program with private sector partners for a human return to the Moon, followed by missions to Mars and beyond.”

Yesterday, TMZ posted a video of Elon being engaged by a paparazzi asking his opinion about the president’s directive.

Musk – who was on two of President Trump’s business advisory councils, but quit them both after Trump announced he was pulling the U.S. out of the Paris climate agreement – gamely (and evasively) answered the pap’s questions.

Regarding Trump’s plan to send astronauts back to the moon, Musk said the goal is “good… no matter who says it.”

When asked if the president is on the right track in sending people to the moon and then to Mars, Elon responded that it’s “objectively true, independent of who says it.”

Later in the interview, Elon is asked about the rumor that he’s going to launch his own Tesla sports car into space on SpaceX’s new Falcon Heavy rocket.

But not mentioned in the conversation is that the rumor was started by Elon himself.

On December 1st, he wrote on Twitter that SpaceX would be launching its new rocket next month, then added: “Payload will be my midnight cherry Tesla Roadster playing Space Oddity. Destination is Mars orbit. Will be in deep space for a billion years or so if it doesn’t blow up on ascent.

The next day, he responded to the question “why” with: “I love the thought of a car drifting apparently endlessly through space and perhaps being discovered by an alien race millions of years in the future

With his choice of “Space Oddity” as the song to be playing in the Tesla, Elon has connected himself to another former Kingston student: astronaut and International Space Station (ISS) Commander, Chris Hadfield.

Hadfield, who received a bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering at Kingston’s Royal Military College in 1982, created the first music video filmed in orbit when he performed “Space Oddity” while on the ISS in 2013, after receiving permission from its singer and song writer, David Bowie.

Although Elon Musk answered some replies to his Twitter post, including one where he confirmed his intention to launch a Tesla playing “Space Oddity” to Mars, a question from @badastronmer (Phil Plait) about which version of the song Elon intends to use – “More important: Bowie or Hadfield?” – has not yet been answered.

UPDATE: It’s confirmed. Elon Musk has posted photos of the red Tesla Roadster that will be cargo on the first Heavy Falcon rocket, currently at Cape Canaveral undergoing final pre-launch tests.

Top image (artist’s rendition): NASA (cc)