IFA Post-Presser Presser
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Elon Musk: When we started out, I thought the whole company just had a ten percent chance of success of surviving at all. So I find it quite [inaudible] and a great honor to be working with NASA to restore spaceflight, orbital spaceflight to America.
Q1: Did you pitch to the Air Force Starship, and do you plan on pitching it out to NASA for the lunar lander system?
Elon Musk: At this point we're basically just keeping NASA and the Air Force informed regarding Starship. But the goals of Starship aren't necessarily, really, so they're pretty off-scale. They're on a different level. And so I think we need to make more progress with Starship in order to establish credibility with potential customers like NASA and the Air Force. In fact, I'm headed to Boca after this. So it's the first thing that I'm going to go work on is Starship production later today.
Q2: Elon, does the press deserve a dance today? [room laughs, groans]
Elon Musk: I can't take these expectations of dancing constantly. I'm not that good of a dancer. I haven't ever worked on my skills.
Elon Musk: No! I am not your dancing puppet! [room laughs] I'll tell you what. After crew launch, one hundred percent. [room laughs] Okay guys, good to see everyone. Now, I'm personally super fired up and excited, and I think it feels like you guys are too, the public. It's just going to be wonderful to get astronauts back into orbit from American soil after almost a decade of not being able to do so. I think that's just super exciting. And like I said, with some technology advances. You know, like with respect to the abort system and a few other things. It'll be on a booster that's reusable and a spacecraft that's reusable. So the only part that isn't reusable for Falcon/Dragon is the upper stage and the trunk. So that's still a very big percentage of reusability. And I keep saying reusability, reusability, but really this reusability is extremely fundamental to revolutionizing space. As it would be of course in aircraft, or cars, or bicycles, or horses. Everything. You really want them to be reusable and get the costs all the way down to simply reload propellant and fly again. Just like an aircraft. And that's really what's going to open up space for the average person.
Q4: Are you in talks with NASA to make Crew Dragon reusable for humans?
Elon Musk: We have been in discussions with NASA about this for quite some time, and my understanding is NASA is very open to this, subject of course to a lot of additional testing and verification.
Q5: What does it take to make it reusable for humans to fly again?
Elon Musk: Well Crew Dragon especially, even more than Dragon 1, the Cargo Dragon, is really designed with reusability in mind. So it has a much more, like, the propulsion section is essentially waterproof. It even has bilge pumps in the propulsion section, which rings the pressurized section like a doughnut at the bottom. So we've already taken great steps to improve the reusability of Crew Dragon over Cargo Dragon, and so I think it's way easier to reuse. But reusability is of course contingent on support from NASA. But obviously the Space Shuttle orbiter was reusable. And so NASA is familiar with the notion of reusability. But Crew Dragon is designed to be easily reusable. So with minimal refurbishment and with essentially, it's designed to be rapidly and almost completely reusable in the case of Crew Dragon, which would be great for lowering costs and improving launch rate. And then the booster, we've proved many times that the booster is reusable. The only thing that's vexing is the upper stage of Falcon, which is not reusable. But unfortunately we just don't have the payload capability to reuse the upper stage with Falcon. We will with Starship. We've got an integrated upper stage and nosecone or fairing that is designed to be fully reusable from the beginning. And it has, it's also quite a big vehicle. Uh, very big vehicle. Obviously. So I'm hopeful there's going to be progress with Starship, and that NASA, DoD, and others will consider using that vehicle. But there will be significant overlap between Falcon 9, Falcon Heavy, Crew Dragon, and Starship, to make sure Starship is really ready and been accepted by our customers before we retire the existing fleet of vehicles.
Q6: Do you have an updated timeline for hops on Starship and when we could expect it go to orbit for the first time?
Elon Musk: Ahh [inaudible]. [room laughs] I think we'll do a more comprehensive update on Starship in the future, but I think we're making very good progress on the Raptor engine. We're at serial number 20 of the Raptor engine. We've completed production on that. And the production rate of Raptors is improving significantly. As well as we're making a number of design improvements to the Raptor engine. So each serial number has some design improvements. All the way up through, I think, probably serial number 50. And so I think that Raptor is going extremely well. Primary structure is slower. And that's actually part of the reason I'm going to head over Boca later today, to just work on some of the primary structure engineering issues. Especially the domes. [laughs] Yeah, when you are engaged in designing and building rockets, these things that seem perhaps trivial, or not that important to the public or the uninitiated, are actually incredibly difficult. Getting the domes right on the propellant tanks is one of the most difficult things. It's just a dome, like, how hard could it be? [room laughs] But it's hard. And then getting the interfaces between the tank and the interstage or skirt that connects it to the booster. And then the interface from the tanks to the nosecone or fairing. The body flap control surfaces. The landing gear. Landing legs. The heat shield. Just general operations. And then of course, for Starship, being able to successfully achieve on orbit refilling is extremely important. But that's actually an example of where our work with docking with the Space Station is actually incredibly helpful. You see, one of the fundamental technologies needed to go to Mars, orbital refilling, is extremely important. That means you need to be able to do precision docking in orbit. And our work with the Space Station, precision docking with the Space Station, actually has helped us solve that very difficult problem, of docking in orbit with precision, reliably every time. But now we need to do it with two giant spaceships. It's like a space station docking to a space station. But I'm very excited about the potential of Starship, and I think it's going to be something that can really have a profound step-change effect on humanity's ability to go beyond Earth. Thank you.