Speaking at the International Astronautical Congress in Mexico on Tuesday, Elon Musk, this time with his SpaceX cap on, made the case for colonizing Mars.
He talked about the goal being reachable between 40 and 100 years from now, and that it was conceivable that one day people will be able to travel to Mars for less than $200,000. We’re assuming he means today’s dollars and not the inflated paper we’ll be using decades from now.
While the idea may be noble—Musk posits colonizing Mars as a security option should some disaster strike Earth—the presentation could also be construed as a method to deflect attention away from the problems Musk and has companies face back here on Earth. (It could also be seen as Musk laying the groundwork for further public funding of SpaceX.)
On September 1, one of SpaceX’s Falcon 9 rockets mysteriously exploded prior to launch, destroying a satellite it was meant to launch. SpaceX suffered a similar rocket failure in June of 2015. The earlier one was meant to deliver supplies to the International Space Station.
Musk’s other ventures are in worse shape, though. Tesla is still bleeding cash and has said it will need to raise more funds this year. Other headwinds include getting the Model 3 into production by the end of 2017 as well as dealing with issues surrounding the Autopilot driving aid, including the possibility of the system being remotely hacked.
Then there’s Tesla’s proposed $2.6 billion merger with SolarCity, another company linked with Musk that is struggling. SolarCity, which Musk is chairman of, spent $766 million on operating expenses in 2015, or nearly twice as much as its total revenue. The company also has more than $3 billion in long-term debt. Understandably, some Tesla shareholders are challenging the deal with lawsuits.