and SpaceX CEO Elon Musk has advocated for building human settlements on both the Moon and Mars, argued against government cryptocurrency regulation, and responded to accusations that he does not not pay enough taxes.
Asked what the U.S. government should be doing in terms of cryptocurrency regulation, Musk replied that he shouldn’t be doing anything.
Musk also downplayed the importance of the phenomenon and his own role as the crypto market guru. “There is value in crypto, but I don’t think this is the second coming of the Messiah,” he said. “But it will hopefully reduce errors and latency in the legacy monetary system. “
Musk has spoken at length about SpaceX and space travel.
On the recent suborbital launches of Virgin Galactic and Blue Origin, with trips with founders Richard Branson and Jeff Bezos, he said it was “cool that they are spending on the advancement of space.” But he also believes the two companies would have to spend more to reach orbit. He estimates that it takes 100 times more energy to put a spacecraft into orbit rather than sub-orbit. When asked when he himself could follow Branson and Bezos into space, Musk replied, “I will send myself at some point,” but did not say when.
Musk said his company now has around 1,500 satellites for its Starlink satellite phone service, with plans to expand the constellation to 30,000 satellites in low Earth orbit. He believes Starlink will provide a high bandwidth, low latency option for communications and internet access, especially in places where installing 5G or terrestrial fiber is not affordable. He sees substantial revenue potential from Starlink. His view is that SpaceX can generate $ 3-4 billion in revenue per year by providing launches, but the total with Starlink could take the revenue to $ 30 billion.
And Musk said the company could then use the proceeds from the Starlink business to fund the development of Starship, the successor to the company’s current Falcon 9 launcher. He said Starship will be fully reusable, which will significantly reduce the cost per launch. With the two-stage Falcon 9, only the lower launch stage can be reused; he said the launches cost around $ 15 million each. With a fully reusable rocket, he said, launches can potentially be reduced to less than a million dollars with 10 times the potential payload weight.
Musk said completing the development of the spacecraft would pave the way for both establishing a permanent moon base and building a self-sustaining city on Mars.
NASA awarded a contract for a new lunar lander to SpaceX, but the price was challenged in court by Blue Origin. Asked about the litigation, Musk said Jeff Bezos would need to put more energy into orbiting his spacecraft. Musk said, “You can’t go on your way to the moon. ”
Musk also brushed aside recent criticisms of space tourism, noting that many technologies are initially expensive until they can be scaled up and made more affordable. He noted that the first Tesla model (ticker: TSLA) – the Roadster – was criticized as a car for the rich, but that the company was unable to initially develop a more affordable electric car, like the current model. 3 “One day, going to Mars will be affordable,” he said.
Swisher asked Musk if he still wanted to die on Mars. While joking about not wanting to die landing on the Red Planet, Musk added, “You have to die somewhere, of course, Mars. “
As to whether he pays enough taxes, Musk noted that he receives no cash wages and pays substantial taxes when exercising options. He said his top marginal tax rate is 53%. Musk also noted that he had Tesla options expiring later this year and that most of the proceeds from what he received would be used to pay taxes.
Write to Eric J. Savitz at [email protected]