Engineering 101

Axel Springer Award Winner Elon Musk Drives Hopes for a “Very Exciting Future”

On the first day of the final month of 2020, engineer, entrepreneur, and billionaire Elon Musk received the Axel Springer Award, presented to outstandingly innovative personalities.

Past award winners include fellow billionaires Jeff Bezos, founder and CEO of Amazon, and Facebook founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg.

But this year’s multimedia presentation and awards ceremony, titled “An Evening for Elon Musk – Mission to Mars” surpassed anything seen since the award’s inception in 2016.

Mission: Berlin to Mars

Attendees at the Axel Springer headquarters in Berlin, Germany, started by boarding what you might imagine being the inside of a SpaceX Starship.

People donning spacesuits like the ones worn by astronauts on the recent Crew Dragon mission to the ISS took to the cockpit.

After “launch,” which included a series of clips of rockets breaking through Earth’s atmosphere, the “flight attendant,” noted that the craft was safely in orbit.

Then began a 360-degree, multi-screen, multimedia presentation chronicling Musk’s early life:

  •       The creation and sale of his first computer game code when he was 12
  •       His move to Canada
  •       The founding of Paypal with his brother Kimbal.

Musk compared the captivating spectacle to “a Disney ride,” telling Axel Springer CEO Mathias Dopfner, “I think you could charge money for this.”

In a lengthy interview that followed, Musk and Dopfner touched upon SpaceX’s goals to reach Mars, Tesla stock prices, and Musk’s thoughts on AI.

Mars Goals

Musk revealed that he’s “highly confident” we can have people on Mars in six years and, “if we get really lucky, four years.” He’s also confident we will see an uncrewed vehicle reach the red planet in just years when the next Mars launch window opens up.  

Musk expects to go into orbit himself in two or three years but quickly shifted the focus to making life multi-planetary. “I think it’s important that we strive to have a self-sustaining city on Mars as soon as possible.”

For Musk, SpaceX is not about space tourism, but about creating a better future.

 “It’s very important for us to have reasons to be excited about life. When you wake up in the morning, it can’t just be about problems. A future where you can have a base on the moon, a city on Mars, and even go further… I think that’s a very exciting future.”

He continued, “Tesla is about trying to make sure things are good for the future on Earth, and then SpaceX is about a good future beyond Earth.” 

Indications of a “Good Future” 

As Tesla continues to roll out Full Self Driving (FSD) capabilities for a select group of beta testers Tesla owners, Musk predicts it will be released in the U.S. next year, pending regulatory approval.

The company has also hinted at the release of a next-gen Roadster, a revamp of the first Tesla model to take to the streets (and, ultimately, to space as it was launched into orbit on a Falcon Heavy rocket two years ago).

In an effort to boost fourth-quarter profits, Tesla is also offering customers who pre-ordered a Cybertruck the option to lease a vehicle from Tesla’s S3XY line, comprising the Models S, 3, X, and Y.

SpaceX’s Starship SN8 completed a successful static test fire and looks forward to a 50,000-foot flight sometime within the next few weeks. The private aerospace company also launched its 100th successful Falcon 9 flight, carrying another 60 Starlink satellites into orbit.

These successes, and many others, are daily stepping stones that exemplify Musk’s impact on humanity’s future and, as Dopfner acknowledged, his “great visions [and] the indomitable will to achieve them.”

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