Elon Musk—who was added as a last-minute keynote speaker at SXSW—joined Jonathan Nolan, the creator of HBO’s Westworld, to discuss the future of transportation and how far off private trips to Mars will be.
Musk and Nolan worked together to create a two-minute trailer from the recent launch of SpaceX’s Falcon Heavy, the flagship rocket of Musk’s private space-flight company SpaceX, and Musk posted the clips to Instagram. (Musk is notorious for not using a lot of marketing to promote his companies, so the video is essentially one of the first advertisements for SpaceX.)
Set to David Bowie’s song Life On Mars, the videos beautifully capture Falcon Heavy’s launch, including footage of the Tesla car on board floating with a dummy named Starman.
“We want you to get excited about the possibility of something new happening in space—the goal of this was to inspire you and make you believe that anything is possible,” Musk told SXSW attendees in Austin’s Moody Theater.
Where tech is headed
The hour-long talk pulled questions from the audience and touched topics like what inspired Musk to start self-driving car brand Tesla, why he’s bullish on space and how much sleep he gets.
When asked about what people can do to help Musk in his ambitious goal to colonize and provide trips to Mars, Musk said “the biggest thing that would be helpful is general support and encouragement” as he and his team work on building the Mars-bound ship.
Once the ship is built, then he believes there’s a lot of entrepreneur opportunities, like hotels, shops, stores and even a Mars-branded bar. He believes the first short flights to Mars will be available as early as next year.
“It kind of reads like Shackleton’s Ad for Antarctic Explorers—it’s difficult, dangerous, [there’s a] good chance you’ll die, excitement for those who survive,” Musk joked.
Running multiple businesses
When Nolan asked what it’s like to run multiple businesses, Musk said that of 80 to 90 percent of his time is spent on Tesla and SpaceX’s engineering and design work.
He added that he started SpaceX because the progress from NASA and others “wasn’t happening … it was getting me down,” Musk said.
One of Musk’s best quotes came when Nolan asked him how to plan for a business where things quite literally blow up. “I don’t have a business mind,” Musk said. “Wishful thinking is the source of many problems. If [something] ever feels too easy, it probably is.”