Musk promises 1st 'up-and-down flight' for SpaceX Mars rocket next year

Courtesy of Matt Lief Anderson  HBO

Courtesy of Matt Lief Anderson HBO

"This question of reusability is so fundamental to rocketry".

"In the short term, Mars is really about getting the spaceship built, and we're making great progress", he said of SpaceX's Mars ship. The company is still way behind on its production targets. "I think that's the single biggest existential crisis that we face, and the most pressing one", he said.

Whether an AI-induced third World War is what drives us off the planet, he didn't say.

Attendees of the the Westworld panel at SXSW got a surprise visit from Elon Musk.

For this writer, it transports her back to her office building in downtown Orlando, standing atop of the parking structure, watching the countdown and launch live before looking up seconds later to see the Falcon Heavy rocketing up through the sky. "Most likely, the form of government on Mars would be somewhat of a direct democracy", he said, with settlers having a direct vote on individual issues.

Musk, 46, who's long dreamed of creating a human colony on Mars, revealed in 2017 that he was building the new rocket ship with the code name "BFR" that would be capable of traveling anywhere on Earth in under an hour.

"This has been our pattern in the past".

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"SpaceX is alive by the skin of its teeth, and so is Tesla - if things had just gone a little differently, both companies would be dead", he said.

"Mars will need everything from iron foundries to pizza joints", he said.

Repeating concerns he's made in the past with even more vigour, he said a bigger threat to human life was artificial intelligence - not nuclear war. Musk called AI a "very serious danger to the public", one that keeps him up at night.

"The thing about spaceflight is all of us working together... and we're trying to think of an image, something to sort of shock people into thinking about this again", Nolan said.

'It will be far more dangerous - difficult, dangerous, good chance you will die, ' he conceded.

Mr Musk said he had to be the chief engineer for the Falcon 1 because he couldn't get any other suitable candidates to join the company, and he didn't want to risk his venture on engineers he felt weren't of the right standard.

Artist's rendering of United States astronaut planting a flag on Mars.

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