Elon Musk and Sir Richard Branson got together this morning on Google Plus for a Google-hosted hangout focused on entrepreneurship. While Branson had some words of advice for the entrepreneurs that tuned in, Musk fielded a few off-topic questions on SpaceX, the hyperloop and his future business dreams.
SpaceX bet all the marbles on its fourth launch
I think maybe for the first 6 months to almost a year (when you start a business), things seem pretty good. Things seem very optimistic and rosy and exciting. Then things start to go wrong, at least in my experience, and you make mistakes. There are counter issues you didn’t expect. That’s been the case actually with every company I’ve been a part of. If you take SpaceX, the first three launches that we conducted failed. It was a very very painful exercise. We were just too stupid to know how to make a rocket go to orbit. I had budgeted. I thought, “OK, we can afford three launches.” Then the third one failed and we were just barely able to scrape together enough money for a fourth launch. If it had not succeeded SpaceX would not be around today.
Trains make Musk sad, but the Hyperloop makes him happy
I originally sort of started thinking about it when I read about California’s high speed rail project, which was somewhat disappointing because it’s not a very high speed rail. I get all sad when things aren’t getting better in the future. You want the future to be better than the past. I got to thinking about … what would be the optimal solution in the special case of a city pair that is less than say 1000 miles and where there is a great deal of traffic between those city pairs. You want a transport that is roughly twice as fast as the next best alternative, that costs less, that is safer, that is not subject to weather and is more convenient. If there was such a thing, obviously I think most people would take it. In fact, it would increase travel between city pairs because of the increased convenience. The hyperloop is something that would go effectively faster than the speed of sound. It does involve a tube but not a vacuum tube. It’s not frictionless, but very low friction.
His next dream company would make supersonic jets
If I were to start another company in the future, which I don’t think would be anytime soon, it would be to try to create an aircraft that is a supersonic vertical take off and landing electric jet. I think that’s the ultimate form of transport, with the exception of … city pairs that are really close together and have a huge amount of traffic between them. The hyperloop would win on that special case. Obviously [the jet] would have some environmental benefits being electric and be quieter. Supersonic, it would be very fast, and if you fly high enough and have the right geometry of the plane, you can make the sonic boom no louder than current planes. And the vertical take off and landing part would mean you could land much closer to your destination instead of landing at these airports with super long runways. I wish someone would do that. If nobody does do that, maybe I would sometime in the future.