The CEO of both Tesla and SpaceX, Elon Musk, took the stage yesterday at SXSW to discuss several things, including a couple of new projects SpaceX is working on. SpaceX is currently working on building rockets that are reusable. The rockets are what Musk says is one of the roadblocks that is holding back humanity from the future of space travel. The cost of making the one-time use rockets is what’s stopping many businesses from joining the industry.
Musk says that fuel and oxygen are hardly the biggest costs of space travel. They only amount to 0.9% of the total cost of the rocket. If SpaceX is able to create a reusable rocket, they would be able to provide a “massive hundred-fold derease in the cost of space flight.” Musk says that SpaceX’s goal has been to expand humanity beyond Earth and turn it into a “multi-planetary species.” He continues to say that all other forms of transportation that humans use are reusable, so why not rockets?
The idea of SpaceX came to Musk when he was trying to donate money to NASA. He wanted NASA to start a greenhouse on Mars that would show that life could exist on that planet. Musk hoped that the project would increase NASA’s federal budget. He had this idea where there’d be a greenhouse on Mars with “green plants on red background”, which would be the “money shot”. The project fell through, but because of it, SpaceX was born.
SpaceX is now very successful, with 1/4 of its launches being for NASA, and the other 3/4 being for commercial businesses. Musk says that the main goals of SpaceX was to get people “excited, and sending (things) to Mars, and increasing NASA’s budget. Today NASA’s our biggest customer.” SpaceX is also working on building a commercial space port in Brownsville Texas, making it the third launch site for the company. There are just some legislative barriers the company has to go through before it can begin working on the project.