Elon Musk at Morgan Stanley TMT Conference 2023.

Elon Musk’s Talk at Morgan Stanley TMT 2023 on Twitter, X.com, Tesla and Starship

Elon Musk with Michael Grimes at Morgan Stanley TMT Conference 2023. Image courtesy @anirvanc on Twitter

Morgan Stanley held this year’s TMT Conference in beautiful (and rainy!) San Francisco and Elon Musk spoke on March 7 about Twitter, X.com, Tesla and SpaceX.  The talk was informative, hopeful, well thought out and funny! Of course you may listen to it online and you may also prefer to read Elon’s interviews so that is why I have transcribed (and categorized) the interview here on “What’s Up Tesla.” 

I do this with many of Elon Musk’s talks for you.  It is part of the goal of this publication to preserve these important talks in writing.   A breakdown for your reference:


  • Mission , News happening in real-time
  • Public relations department?
  • Advertising’s incredible potential 
  • Community Notes and the rigorous pursuit of truth
  • Proactively reducing child exploitation 
  • Advertisers enjoy brand safety
  • A healthy national dialogue
  • Freedom of speech: hearing what you don’t want to hear
  • Twitter won’t always be a fractal rube goldberg machine
  • Cash flow

Starlink, X.com, Tesla and SpaceX’s Starlink and Starship:

  • Starlink: a case study in effective advertising
  • X.com as your everything app
  • Tesla Master Plan 3 and the next-gen vehicle
  • Starlink’s advantage
  • Starship orbital launch

The Mission of Twitter

Michael Grimes: (paraphrased) Where are you on the core principles of Twitter: Authentic, informative, entertaining, accurate, brand safe and democratic?

Elon Musk: “I think some of these are a little at odds, but ‘brand safe’ I think really means ‘where advertising is displayed’ or the advertiser gets to choose what material is near that advertising. If it’s some sort of… like a train accident or a war scene, then probably a family-friendly brand is not going to want to advertise right next to that.  Or it can’t be like, ‘here’s a bleak war scene, would you like to buy a hamburger?’ it would be like, awkward, you know? 

So that’s understandable you want to put advertising next to content where it makes sense.  But the content in general needs to be authentic and informative even if it is controversial or jarring. I think people need to be able to choose, to some degree, what content they want to see.  Of course, on Twitter, you can. But really we want it to be the fundamental place you go to, to learn what’s going on and get the real story. 

The truth, the whole truth and it’s going to be more than, hahaha, I’d like to say nothing but the truth but that’s hard, (laughter) there’s going to be a lot of BS there too. There are going to be lies, for sure, but you want to have the truth and you want to bubble up the truth and be able to sort of sort it out… you really want truth with the least amount of error.”

News happens in real-time on Twitter

Elon Musk explains Twitter’s unique place as a real-time news source,

“Well, I’m sure many of you use Twitter.  Everything on Twitter is happening in real-time.

So if you contrast that to what’s happening in a newspaper, they have to learn the information, propose an article to their editor, get it approved, write the article, get it edited, figure out which day it’s going to get published on, and so the thing that happened is being reported on 3-4 days, sometimes a week late. And if it happens on a weekend then it’s at least 3 days. 

You know ChatGPT was huge news for several days on Twitter before there were any news articles about it in major publications. So when thinking about investing in things, you want to have information that is as timely and accurate as possible, there’s no better source than Twitter for that.”  Elon Musk

Michael Grimes lamented on the fact that people need to be “default skeptical” of any news story about Twitter and assume it’s default wrong because “not only some journalists have an agenda but the source has an agenda and it’s so easy to go through the chain of inaccuracy or outright falsehood.” He asked Elon Musk if a public relations department was a consideration,

No, PR departments… no the right name for PR is propaganda.  Maybe we should have a VP of propaganda, I think that’s more honest, and also a VP of witchcraft. (laughter) Those would be two great ones.

“If you pick up any given newspaper and read the whole thing and say, ‘how many of those stories are positive about anything at all?’ Almost none. So if something is newsworthy it is going to have a negative slant, whether it is positive or not.  There’s like something in journalism that, they’ve been trained to basically never write a positive story about anything. Once and a while you see a puff piece but it’s rare.  So anything that’s newsworthy will get written about, anything that’s written about will go through a negativity lense and so you, therefore, have a bizarrely negative view of the world if you draw your information from newspapers. This is simply a fact.” Elon Musk

Why advertising on Twitter has incredible potential

“So on Twitter, you can get a much more balanced positive-negative situation, it doesn’t have that bias quite as much.  There’s probably still a little bit of negativity bias but much less so.  I’m not sure what the legacy media does, I mean at this point, really, Twitter is, by the way, the #1 news app in the world.  So in terms of what people download for news, it’s #1. 

There are 500M active users. 250M daily users of which I’d say there are probably 180M significant daily users, where it’s a meaningful amount of time. The average amount of time people spend on Twitter of that 250M is about 1/2 an hour or so.  The thing I think that is most interesting is about 120M to 130M hours of human attention per day on Twitter, every single day on average.

I think it comes to an interesting point which is, it’s startling how poorly monetized that is because you have to say, how valuable is that attention? 130M hours of human attention per day, of people that read.  So these are generally the smartest people in the world, the most influential people in the world, and you have 130M hours of their time per day, that’s a lot!

Currently, Twitter makes about 5 or 6 cents per hour of that time.  I think this is poorly monetized (laughter). Like, if I’m spending 2 hours a day on Twitter, whatever ads are coming through are getting my, or yours or everyone in the room’s attention, your time is incredibly valuable.  The thing is, we need to actually serve ads that are relevant and useful and I think as we do that we can probably at least get it like 15 cents an hour or 20 cents an hour, a quarter? 

I think the actual potential here for Twitter revenue is gigantic.  And it’s going to be a win-win situation which is if you are served advertising that you find timely and relevant with products and services that are useful to you, that’s good for you and good for the advertiser. Advertising in the limit of relevance is content.” Elon Musk

Community Notes and the rigorous pursuit of truth 

Michael Grimes asked how Community Notes can be used without being hijacked by either side of an issue or political spectrum. Elon Musk explained,

“There’s a White Paper on Community Notes that I recommend reading, in fact, I’ll tweet it out so that people can have easy access to it because it’s really quite a clever idea.  Think of it like page rank for pages as applied to people, which is that as people build credibility in how they review notes, they build up enough credibility to actually write notes. Those notes are then rated by others, and depending upon the credibility of the people rating your notes, your credibility score gets affected. In order to be a notes contributor, you have to be a verified person. And it takes a while to get there; when you just start out, you will start off with no credibility score.

We actively look at any attempts to game the system and shut them down. If they’re determined to be not real people or if they seem to be brigading because there are deliberate attempts to manipulate Community Notes. We also make the Community Notes source code open and available, so you can basically see everything. You can see exactly how Community Notes is calculating things, and what changes are made to Community Notes and we’ll keep iterating and the goal is to have truth with the least amount of error.

There’s always like, ‘What is truth?’ Does someone really aspire to the truth?  If they really aspire to the truth they must acknowledge that there is some probability that what they think is untrue. If somebody thinks that what they say is true with 100% probability, there’s a 100% probability they are lying. Truth must acknowledge error, and you aim to minimize the error over time, that’s what Community Notes is. I think also, once someone gets Community Noted, they think twice about being dissected in the future.  You start getting noted a few times, and you think ‘Uh, oh!’

The important thing is that anyone can be noted, including me, and in fact, I wanted to make a note of being noted. The point is that if I can be noted, anyone can be noted, including advertisers. We’ve had a few cases where the advertising wasn’t accurate and it got noted.  This, I think will be very helpful in truth in advertising. The goal is the rigorous pursuit of the truth, aspirationally the whole truth, and the least amount of untruth.” Elon Musk

Proactively reducing child exploitation on Twitter 

“I’ve repeatedly said to the Trust & Safety team at Twitter that the #1 Priority,
which will always be the #1 Priority no matter what,
is ensuring that children are safe on Twitter,
that there’s no child exploitation. 
So that is #1 priority always and forever.”
Elon Musk

Elon Musk explained to Michael Grimes, “I’ve repeatedly said to the Trust & Safety team at Twitter that the #1 Priority, which will always be the #1 Priority no matter what, is ensuring that children are safe on Twitter, that there’s no child exploitation.  So that is #1 priority always and forever. 

What I’ve been told is that we’ve done more to eliminate [CSE material] on Twitter in the last four months than what has been done in the last ten years. It will continue to be our number one priority. A 100-fold reduction in CSE search patterns is pretty gigantic to say the least.  It’s the absolute number one priority.”

Advertisers on Twitter enjoy brand safety

Elon Musk used the example of Disney.  “With respect to brand safety, it really depends a lot on the brand. By the way, Disney is a major advertiser on Twitter worldwide.  Apple is one of our biggest advertisers.

But Disney of course does not want to have one of their ads next to things that aren’t appropriate for a family audience.  But there are other products that are kind of more R-rated if you will, so they’re more comfortable with advertising being in the equivalent of like a R-rated movie or something like that.  So brand safety depends on what brand you’re talking about.  Is it a family brand or a less family brand? 

Advertisers can actually adjust what content they are comfortable having their advertising appear next to.  The same is true on TV.  The advertising that you’ll see at 7 pm is different than the advertising that you’ll see at midnight. We have the same functionality on Twitter, so it’s truly up to the advertiser where they want to put their content.  But I think by far the most important thing is if the advertising is effective.  That it is relevant and that it moves the needle for a company.  Advertising relevance is the most gigantic thing. 

This is going to sound totally bizarre but Twitter did not consider relevance in advertising until 3 months ago.  In fact if you use Twitter for a long time, you should ask ‘how many products have you bought off Twitter?’ Probably zero! (laughter) Judging by the laughter, probably zero.  And your time is incredibly valuable.” 

Michael Grimes: Flamethrower, no one bought a flamethrower?

Elon Musk: Haha, its possible that they might have bought things from content-based tweets because the content that’s recommended is reasonably relevant but the advertising has not been.  So as we shift towards advertising being relevant and timely, as I said, advertising that is relevant and timely is content.  The time of 130M person-hours of the smartest people on earth is insanely valuable. Historically, with advertising being mostly irrelevant, we’ve been wasting peoples’ time and that’s not good. Going forward, Twitter will have very relevant and useful advertising. There will be a massive increase in revenue because it is now useful. So I’m very optimistic about the future.  It’s been a very difficult 4 months, but I’m optimistic about the future. 

Healthy national dialogue on Twitter

Elon Musk: I think the objective reality for anyone looking at Twitter for a long time was that Twitter had a massive thumb on the scale on the left side. Twitter would ban and suspend accounts on the right 10 times more than on the left. This is naturally what you would expect, frankly, because we are in San Francisco, which is deep deep blue.

So, Twitter was controlled by the far left. So the natural thing that would happen then was the suppression of moderates, not just suppression of the right but even suppression of moderate voices. But that’s not conducive to a healthy national dialogue.

In order to have a healthy national dialogue, you have to represent the whole country, and you have to represent everyone in other countries too. That’s the only way to have a Town Square.

Freedom of speech: hearing what you don’t want to hear

Elon Musk: There were disproportionately more accounts unsuspended and un-shadowbanned on the right because Twitter had a huge thumb on the scale in favor of the left.  But if you say, ‘Have we been suspending accounts on the left?  Have we been shadowbanning accounts on the left? No, no we haven’t.’ No, because exactly what I said we were doing which is to make it an even playing field and you know something is Freedom of Speech when you’re hearing speech from someone you don’t like and you don’t like what they’re saying. 

Otherwise it’s not free speech. And if you don’t have that ability, then sooner or later that suppression of speech is going to be turned on you. It is a good sign if you’re seeing people you don’t like say things you don’t like.  That is a good sign, not a bad sign… provided you can say your piece too! I think this is fundamental.

The reason I did the Twitter acquisition was not because I thought this would be some lucrative goldmine, and in fact, it has been arduous and difficult with being dumped on [by mainstream media] every day. That’s not the most fun thing in the world. But if we do not have a strong foundation of free speech, I fear for the future of our civilization. We must have this. That’s why I did it.

Twitter won’t always be a fractal rube goldberg machine

Elon Musk: The codebase is like a Rube Goldberg Machine and when you zoom in on one part of the Rube Goldberg Machine there’s another Rube Goldberg Machine and then there’s another one! That’s what I mean by the fractal.  As you zoom in there’s another fractal and another fractal and a fractal Rube Goldberg Machine. It’s quite difficult to keep this thing running and then also difficult to advance the product because it is really overly complex. We’ll make what appears to be a small change somewhere that then causes a massive disruption. For example, yesterday we made what we thought was a small change, we want to be in full disclosure including gruesome details.  There was what was supposed to be a small change to 1% of the Twitter user base ended up being a catastrophic event to 100% of the Twitter user base. We don’t have enough time to go into the details but there was a Boolean flag in the Twitter front end that should not have been there. 

I’ll give you an example.  At one point there was a problem with Twitter Spaces where suspended users were able to join conversations even though they were suspended and so we temporarily turned off access to Twitter Spaces which then made anyone who is using the Twitter Android App unable to like a tweet. Now how those things are connected is not clear, haha. So if you had an iOS app you could like tweets, if you’re on the Web app you could like tweets but not if you had an Android app because of Spaces. 

There’s a lot of work behind the scenes and simplifying the code base, getting rid of extraneous features and enabling Twitter to evolve more rapidly in the future but it requires a lot of cleanup. 

Looking forward to Twitter being cash flow positive

Michael Grimes: You’ve grown users [on Twitter] despite a lean engineering team and cutting out a data center. 

Elon Musk: Yeah, I think on balance we’re doing okay.  Just to give you a sense of where things were at the close of acquisition on October 29th, Twitter was tracking to a negative 3 Billion dollar a year burn rate and had 1 Billion in the bank. That’s a pretty dire situation.

If 2023 had been a normal year, Twitter would have done something on the order of 4.5 Billion in revenue and 4.5 Billion in cost, roughly break even, but when you add 1.5 Billion of debt servicing to that and a massive decline in advertising, some of it cyclic, some of it political, but call it at roughly a 50% decline in revenue, you’ve got over 3 Billion dollars negative.  Twitter has some revenue that’s not advertising-based, data subscriptions and what-not, but in the absence of action, Twitter would have had 6 Billion in costs and 3 Billion in revenue so minus 3 Billion and there was 1 Billion in the bank, so it would have gone bankrupt in 4 months.  Immediate and drastic action had to be taken, which was. 

We actually have now cut the non-interest burn to roughly 1.5 Billion.  So we’ve got 1.5 Billion of debt servicing and 1.5 Billion of expenditures.  We went from 3 data centers to 2, and reduced our cloud expenditures significantly, while at the same time having the fastest product evolution in Twitter’s history.  So overall, not bad. There have been a few bumps along the road obviously but this is to be expected. And now I think we have the opportunity to grow it into something quite spectacular.  We had the highest total user minutes in Twitter history. 

The real numer to care about is actually not the MDAU (Monetized daily active user) but its user time.  How many total user hours per day do you have? That’s the real figure of merit because one could for example go to 300 Million daily active users but if they spent less time on the system cumulatively that would actually be a downgrade.  Its how much human attention are you worth?

That’s why I think the really profound thing is what Twitter has is roughly 130 Million hours of the smartest most influential people on earth, every single day.  There’s nothing else that has that.  I mean there are social networks that have more users but they do not have the smart, influential people, they don’t have you!

Michael Grimes: After doing the math, Twitter is EBITDA (Earnings Before Interest, Taxes, Depreciation and Amortization) profitable today and then you’re looking for break even after debt services.  When do you get to cash flow break even?

Elon Musk:  Well it’s EBITDA profitable but the “D” is quite big! (laughter)

Michael Grimes: When do you get to cash flow break even after that “D”?

Elon Musk: This is where we need to focus on the “E” part. (laughter) Yeah, I hope we pay taxes. So like I said, we’re getting to the point where we’re close to having the total expenditures for the company excluding debt roughly equal to the debt. I think we’ll be there in Q2. I definitely don’t want to count chickens before they’re hatched or jinx it or anything but I think we’ve got a shot at being cash flow positive next quarter.

Twitter has huge advertiser value

Michael Grimes: Twitter has great advertiser value with 147 Billion global impressions of the World Cup 2022 conversation. 

Elon Musk:  What I say to advertisers and brands is ‘use Twitter yourself and believe what you see on Twitter, not what you read in the newspapers.’ Because what you see on Twitter is the real thing, and what you read in newspapers is not. And I’d like to thank Mark Read and WPP for their support and publicists and others that have stuck with us like Disney and Apple.

Michael Grimes: When do you introduce performance-based advertising and scale it?

Elon Musk: Performance-based advertising is really just advertising that is relevant, in fact we should realistically have zero nonperformance-based advertising. 

We want advertising that matters, people’s attention is precious. We should not serve them ads that are annoying or irrelevant or strident or ugly.  It was interesting you should mention White Lotus, I was talking today with David Zaslav, it was great, and he was like, ‘Why can’t we put a White Lotus trailer every time someone mentions White Lotus on Twitter?’ I’m like, ‘Absolutely!’

So one of the super-obvious but profound things that we’re doing is enabling keyword advertising so that can the keywords, like ‘White Lotus’ and if somebody mentions White Lotus, you put the White Lotus trailer there.  I mean, that sounds very obvious. 

We don’t need advanced AI for this one (laughter).  It’s sort of just google Adwords that apply to tweets and the home timeline and replies and everywhere else because you often have sort of long, deep conversations with people going on talking about movies, TV, products and whatnot and that’s the perfect opportunity for advertisers to provide their message. 

Starlink: A case study in effective advertising

Elon Musk: You know, if I think about something, for example, like Starlink, which does advertise in various media you want to advertise to users in a region that are not already saturated.  So Starlink tends to be saturated in urban areas but it is not saturated in rural areas.  What Starlink would like to do is say, ‘Please show the ad to rural users with a slow connection. And the simple message is, ‘Do you want faster internet for less money? Click. Probably you do.  Twitter needs to be able to do a simple thing like that.  And it will.  It is already able to do that, we just haven’t fully rolled it out.  So I think we’re around 20%-ish but by the end of this year almost all advertising should be reasonably relevant.

“Twitter is not a one way street, there’s continuous interaction. 
I think we can have a profoundly more useful advertising experience.” Elon Musk

Elon Musk: Even if you say nothing about that ad, after its dropped in the Twitter system and it has 10,000 views, you populate the parameter space of the ad and then you correlate the user parameter space and the ad parameter space and then you don’t need to do any demographic targeting because you could be like, say its a gardening ad or you could be 20, 30, 40, 70 years old, any sex, whatever, it doesn’t matter. 

What matters is you like gardening and that’s the ad that should be shown. I think we can get away from the ad targeting by age range and sex in favor or targeting by interest.  Alot of this demographic tageting was done coming from a TV or newspaper era where you don’t have interaction with the user, you just have to kind of guess because its a one way street in TV.  But on Twitter its not a one way street, there’s continuous interaction.  I think we can have a profoundly more useful advertising experience.

The everything app: X.com

Michael Grimes: Tell us about your vision for X, the everything app.

Elon Musk: I think its possible to create a very powerful finance experience basically. Paypal is kind of like a halfway version of what I think could be done in payments and finance. You want to be able to send money easily from one account on X / Twitter to another account effortlessly with one click.  You want to be able to earn interest on the money, you want to be able to have debt so your interest can grow negative.  Basically, I think it’s possible to become the biggest financial institution in the world just by providing people with convenience and payment options.  We don’t have time to go into detail here except if we just make the app more and more useful, people will use it more and it will be great.  I mean, you’ll see!

Michael Grimes: The Tesla team is nice and built out, the Twitter executive team is perhaps a bit leaner.  Maybe there’s a meme that’s accurate.

Elon Musk:  He does have a black turtleneck, haha! Do you need anything more?  I don’t think so.

Michael Grimes: So when does that Twitter management team have that bench like you showcased at the Gigafactory?

Elon Musk: Well I think it takes a lot of time to build a strong management team.  We built the Tesla management team over 20 years.  I think Twitter is an easier problem than Tesla by a long shot. But it will take some time to build the team, probably a few years. 

Tesla Master Plan 3 is a message of hope grounded in physical reality

Michael Grimes:  You shared Master Plan 3 at the Gigafactory and the edit that came to my mind was ‘Master planet! after your first piece there in sustainable energy for all earth.  Can you take us through that positive, optimistic, mathematically underpinned vision?

Elon Musk: Okay, there’s not a lot of time to do that but I guess the overall message is that we can absolutely turn earth into a sustainable energy economy, fully sustainable, using lithium-ion batteries, solar, wind, as well as geothermal, nuclear and other things but primarily it’ll be solar and wind and lithium-ion batteries.

And to our calculations, you need roughly 240 TeraWatt hours of lithium-ion batteries.  Most of those will be iron phosphate for the primarily iron cathode which is a plentiful material.  In fact, the #1 element on earth is actually iron — a little factoid.  I think earth by mass is about 32% iron and about 30% oxygen and then everything else is miscellaneous. So we’re like a mighty rust ball.  So, plenty of iron.  Basically, the materials needed to make 240 TerraWatt hours of batteries are actually plentiful on earth. We don’t need to mow down the Amazon or anything like that!

We don’t need to do anything terrible to the environment to create 240 TerraWatt hours of batteries, in fact, there will be less mining required in a sustainable energy economy than is currently required.  Really, this is a message of hope and optimism grounded in physical reality, it is not wishful thinking.  We should be excited and inspired about the future.

And I am not suggesting complacency or anything like that and getting there faster is better than getting there slower, but we don’t need to live some terrible austere life and give up the things that we like. You can have the things that you like, in fact, even more of them, and the environment can be good.  All the good things are possible, that’s what I’m saying. 

We should be excited and optomistic about the future.  We need to go build this, its a lot of work but you should not feel sad about the future regarding sustainable energy, it will happen! Elon Musk

Elon Musk: We should be excited and optimistic about the future.  We need to go build this, its a lot of work but you should not feel sad about the future regarding sustainable energy, it will happen! We just want to make it happen faster rather than slower.

Tesla’s next generation vehicle 

Michael Grimes:  That was the first big takeaway, the next one that I had was your next phase of vertical integration, the relentless first principles thinking on vehicle design, battery design, factory optimization. Could you talk more on this?

Elon Musk: There’s a clear path to making a smaller vehicle that is roughly half the production cost and difficulty of our Model 3. That vehicle will really be used almost entirely in autonomous mode.  The thing that is really gigantic for Tesla is autonomy and if people have used the Tesla full self driving and gave seen how rapidly the full self driving capability has been evolving, it should be obvious that that is by far the most profound thing. 

Elon Musk: The total addressable market stuff, it’s like, guys, this is actually not the right way to think about it.  Passenger vehicles right now only see about 10-12 hours of use per week.  There’s 168 hours in a week, if those vehicle are autonomous they’re probably going to get used for 50-60 hours a week. That’s a 5x increase in the value of a car and it costs the same to make the car. At that point you basically have software margins in a hardware product, it’s the same.  Total addressable market is everyone, all humans. Powerful.

Why Starlink’s speed is fast

Elon Musk: The Starlink team is doing an amazing job. 

More than half the satellites in orbit right now are Starlink satellites. So if you add up all satellites launched cumulatively, they are less than Starlink. Starlink is currently providing global connectivity, you can get connectivity anywhere on earth from the most remote part of Antarctica to San Francisco.  Anywhere. Full-level connectivity, high bandwidth, and low latency.

The latency is important because unless you’re in low earth orbit you cannot get a low latency.  The geostationary satellites are very high, you’ve sort of got sometimes up to a second of latency from a geostationary satellite, all things inclusive. With Starlink satellites, we believe we can get the latency under 20 milliseconds. 

For international communications, an interesting thing is that in fiber, light travels much slower than in air or vacuum. So in rough approximation, light travels about 300 kilometers per millisecond in air or vacuum but only just roughly over 200 kilometers per millisecond in fiber. So you’ve got roughly a 40% increase in speed of light going through the Starlink system than through fiber and it can also follow a more direct route. 

Instead of following the coastline of the continents, it [Starlink] can actually have a more direct route.  It’s a shorter route and inherently faster from a physics standpoint so it connects the world way better than fiber and is providing connectivity to people that either never had it before or where their options were extremely expensive or very low bandwidth.

So [Starlink] is helping out a lot of communities that never had access, especially when you consider that education is digital these days, that’s really how you can learn anything. You can basically learn anything for free on the internet if you have the internet!  In terms of providing education abilities to remote communities, Starlink is doing a lot of good in that regard.

Starship going orbital

“We don’t want to be one of those lame, one-planet civilizations!”
Elon Musk

Starship launch soon. Image courtesy Elon Musk.

Elon Musk: We’re getting ready for the first launch of Starship.  This is a very difficult program.  The rocket is roughly 2.5 times the thrust of a Saturn V so if and once it reaches orbit it will be by far the biggest rocket that reaches orbit, but more importantly it is designed to be the first reusable orbital rocket ever so that the key to extending life beyond earth is a fully and rapidly reusable orbital rocket. 

This is a very hard problem given the constraints of earth.  Earth has a thick atmosphere and strong gravity, it is literally barely possible to do this, that’s why its not been done before.  We are getting close to our first orbital attempt of Starship, hopefully in the next month or so we’ll have our first attempt.  I’m not saying it’ll get to orbit but I guarantee excitement.  (audience laughter) It won’t be boring.  I think it’s hopefully above a 50% chance of reaching orbit. 

We’re building a whole series of Starships in South Texas and so I think we’ve got, hopefully, an 80% chance of reaching orbit this year.  It will probably take up a couple more years to achieve full rapid reusability, which I can’t emphasize enough, is the profound breakthrough that is needed to extend life beyond earth because it lowers the cost of access to space by orders of magnitude. In the same way, let’s say there were no airplanes that were reusable, how expensive would air flight be?  It would be insane. You’d have to buy a new airplane every time you flew somewhere and you’d have to tow a small airplane behind you for the return flight.  That’s not going to scale.

So if things go well there, this vehicle could make life multi-planetary, that’s a really big deal.  And it could make life on Mars real and that’s one of the great filters that any civilization has to pass through which is, ‘does this civilization become multi-planetary or not?’  This is one of the elements of the Fermi Paradox.  I mean I sort of wonder that, if we are able to get to multi-planetary that will be a forcing function to improve spaceflight to become multi-stellar, to go to other star systems and I think we may discover that there are many long-dead one-planet civilizations.  We don’t want to be one of those.  We don’t want to be one of those lame, one-planet civilizations!

Austin at sunset, image courtesy Aeriel Austin, Instagram

Gail Alfar, Author, Military Veteran. Exclusive to What’s Up Tesla – March 12, 2023. All Rights Reserved. My goal as an author is to support Tesla (the most American vehicle manufacturer) and Elon Musk in both making life better on earth for humans and becoming a space-fairing civilization.

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