At the Satellite 2020 conference on Monday, SpaceX founder and Tesla CEO Elon Musk said that he is worried that his space company will not be able to bring about its mission of getting to Mars before his death.
“If we don’t improve our pace of progress, I’m definitely going to be dead before we go to Mars,” Musk opined. “If it’s taken us 18 years just to get ready to do the first people to orbit, we’ve got to improve our rate of innovation or, based on past trends, I am definitely going to be dead before Mars”.
Musk said that SpaceX executives are not currently focusing on spinning off the Starlink project into a separate company, as instead they are simply getting it operational as quickly as possible. The project aims to launch about 12,000 satellites into orbit around the earth to provide space-based broadband internet coverage.
“We’re thinking about that zero,” the SpaceX CEO said of the Starlink project, suggesting that first “we need to make the thing work”.
Musk’s remarks contradict earlier comments made by company president Gwynne Shotwell, who said in February that SpaceX could spin the satellite business into its own public company.
Starlink internet coverage is expected to start working in the middle of this year. The company has currently launched about 300 satellites.
Musk estimated that the earnings for the company from the broadband internet project alone could approach $30 billion annually, an estimate almost ten times that of what the rocket-launching section of the company can expect, according to Bloomberg.