Spaceflight Insider

SpaceX CEO Elon Musk highlights importance of space exploration at SXSW

Elon Musk makes a suprise appearance during a Westworld panel at South by Southwest 2018. Photo Credit: Ryan Chylinski / SpaceFlight Insider

Elon Musk makes a suprise appearance during a Westworld panel at South by Southwest 2018. Photo Credit: Ryan Chylinski / SpaceFlight Insider

AUSTIN, Texas — Elon Musk gave a brief inspirational speech at South by Southwest on March 10, 2018. He spoke in a surprise appearance after a featured session on the HBO series Westworld with co-creators Jonathan Nolan and Lisa Joy along with other members of the show’s cast.

“Life can’t be about solving one miserable problem after another. We need things that inspire you, that make you glad to wake up in the morning and be part of humanity. That’s why we did this,” Musk said, referencing the recent launch of SpaceX’s Falcon Heavy rocket with a Tesla Roadster and “Starman” dummy.

This was followed by a two-minute “trailer” about the flight, which was created by Nolan and Joy.

Shocking people into thinking about space again

“One of the things that I really used to, when I was a kid, spend an unhealthy amount of time thinking about was space and spaceflight,” Nolan said. “I grew up watching Super 8 movies of Saturn rocket launches and that is something that has gone away a little bit.”

Nolan said that it was his grandparents generation that went to the Moon during the Apollo program, but humans have not returned since.

“I was having a drink last year with a friend, and we were talking about how you inspire people,” Nolan said. “One of the beautiful things about spaceflight is it’s all of us working together.”

Nolan said he and his friend were trying to think of an image that could shock people into looking and thinking about spaceflight again.

“What we came up with was a red sports car and a David Bowie song,” Nolan said. The friend he was referring to was Musk.

Video courtesy of SpaceFlight Insider


Video courtesy of SpaceX



Ryan Chylinski is a multi-disciplinary photographer, entrepreneur, and space science enthusiast from the flagship city of Erie, Pennsylvania. Chylinski received his BS from The Rochester Institute of Technology in, where he studied computer engineering at the College of Applied Science and Technology in Rochester, New York. Commemorating the 40th anniversary of the Voyager 1 and 2 spacecraft. Chylinski is now travelling full-time with the open-source photographic apprenticeship: and - inside a different kind of ship of the imagination. His work, and ongoing studies remain closely entwined: Chylinski’s out to ignite the cosmic perspective in artists and entrepreneurs and to inspire a personal exploration of the hidden universe in a very practical way.

Reader Comments

Musk and SpaceX have done more to make rocketry and space travel headline news than NASA, ESA and Roscosmos combined in this decade. That is a good thing which these space agencies must capitalize on. Even Trump has been talking bigly about U.S. rockets lately, which most of his predecessors have shied away from except at pre-arranged press briefings.
Spaceflight could become a national conversation as long as SpaceX continue to be successful with their aggressive launch schedules. I read that they will attempt 5 launches of the Falcon 9 in as many weeks. High risk but huge publicity if it succeeds. And if it manages to relaunch American astronauts from the Cape soon then funding NASA may even become a key issue in the 2020 presidential race.

Had NASA tried to build something like F9Heavy it would still be stuck on the drawing board (or back of a nasa canteen napkin). Heres to BFR currently under assembly.

I don’t think that NASA couldn’t develop something of this sort but they would likely need 10-20 times the cash. So if it cost SpaceX 500 million to develop FH, NASA would probably need 5-10 billion (not accounting for Falcon 9 costs which would be on top of that). Nobody in congress is going to give them that sort of cash to develop a reusable heavy lift rocket that would basically reduce the workforce required to produce it and thus hurt the constituencies of the politicians who decide the NASA budget. If they could, they would have even axed the Falcon 9, only Dragon had some unique capabilities and shutting it down would have put NASA in a very uncomfortable situation for multiple reasons which I’m sure they made clear to the politicians. I’m still quite convinced that workforce preservation was a major reason for the cancellation of the X-33 after only 1 billion had been spent, that’s a pittance in NASA rocket development terms. The day I read about that cancellation is the day I knew NASA had ceded it’s edge in space access technology. The rest as they say is history.

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