SpaceX founder and CEO Elon Musk, was a guest at the Satellite 2020 conference that took place Monday, March 9. in Washington D.C. He discussed with a conference moderator about a variety of topics including, SpaceX rockets and the Starlink satellite network. Musk talked about the importance of developing a fully reusable spacecraft. SpaceX engineers are currently working on the development of a fully-reusable stainless-steel Starship, that will be capable of carrying 100 passengers plus tons of cargo on long-duration voyages to the moon, Mars, and beyond. Musk was asked what is the biggest challenges we face in expanding our presence in space, he stated:
"There's really only one thing that matters, that is a truly reusable rocket."
SpaceX must build a massive rocket-ship duo, capable of being rapidly and fully reusable, "That is a fundamental thing" Musk said, "without that we don't go nowhere." Spacecraft needs to be as reusable as aircraft to successfully achieve becoming a multi-planet species.
"I hope I'm not dead by the time people go to Mars ... If we don't improve our pace of progress then I'm definitely going to be dead before we go to Mars."
Musk also talked about his plan to further fund SpaceX's space program, he aims to offer Starlink broadband internet services across the globe. SpaceX has been actively deploying Starlink satellites into low Earth orbit. So far, SpaceX has launched 300 out of the 12,000 satellites that will make-up the Starlink constellation. Customers from across the world will be able to receive affordable internet connection from user terminals that look like a "UFO on a stick." SpaceX aims to roll-out Starlink service in parts of Northern United States and Canada before the year ends. During the conference, Musk was asked what his long-term vision for the Starlink network is, "The whole purpose of SpaceX is really to help make life multi-planetary... But the revenue potential of launching satellites to the space station...that taps out about $3 billion dollars a year. But I think providing broadband is more like an order of magnitude more than that, probably $30 billion a year as a rough approximation," he said.
Astronomers have voiced their concerns about Starlink satellites being too bright in the night sky, when asked about it, Musk joked, "I haven't met anyone that can tell me where all of them are, not even one person!" Though, he assured that SpaceX is working with members of the scientific and astronomer community to minimize the potential reflection of satellites. Explaining to the audience that some Starlink satellites are visible because they have not raised into a higher orbit. He also shared the company has been experimenting with a variety of methods to reduce reflectivity, "For example, paint the phase ray antenna black instead of white. […] We're working on a sun-shade." During the Satellite 2020 conference, he was also asked if he plans to spin-off Starlink internet into its own company, "We’re thinking about that zero," he said, "We need to make the thing work."
Towards the end of the chat, an audience member was allowed to ask him a question: "...How can colleges and industries make it easier to afford college?..."
To which Musk responded:
"Well, first of all, you don't need college to learn stuff ... Everything is available, basically for free. You can learn anything you want for free. It is not a question of learning... there is a value that colleges have... which is, you are seeing whether somebody [...] can work hard at something. Including a bunch of annoying homework assignments."
That statement is especially true today, because the majority of youth living in the United States has access to internet, which opens a whole world of knowledge at their fingertips. If someone truly desires to learn, the knowledge is available for free inside the world wide web -only a few clicks away.
Musk added, "I think colleges are basically for fun and to prove you can do your chores, but they're not for learning."
"Did Shakespeare even go to college? Probably not."
About the Author
Evelyn J. Arevalo joined Tesmanian in 2019 to cover news as a Space Journalist and SpaceX Starbase Texas Correspondent. Evelyn is specialized in rocketry and space exploration. The main topics she covers are SpaceX and NASA.