Via Satellite: Do you have future plans to alternate or change your launch sites?
Musk: We currently use Cape Canaveral as our initial launch site, but we are looking very closely and probably will establish Falcon 9 launch capability at Kwajalein as well. The advantage of Kwajalein is that if you’re a [geostationary launch] customer we can give you direct launch trajectory at 9 degrees and put you pretty much dead on — like Sea Launch.
Via Satellite: Will the Obama administration’s space policy affect your plans for future business?
Musk: I think the change is going to be positive for us. The Obama campaign’s policies on space are very favorable for new commercial companies. They have come out explicitly in favor of COTS in both cargo and crew components, which is what we want because we want to take astronauts to the space station.
Via Satellite: You have a variety of backgrounds on your staff. How did you assemble your workforce?
Musk: We have combination of people with decades of aerospace experience as well as people who are just out of school. You need both. I think the industry needs to look more into hiring fresh out of college. You get a lot of energy and enthusiasm with somebody who is fresh out of school. They also introduce new thinking, new tools and new techniques that are developed over time. Even our interns work directly on projects here. You never see that at other companies. I think you definitely have to have companies that are exciting for younger people to work at. With the big aerospace companies, that issue is sort of a self-inflicted wound. They’re just sort of bureaucratic and a bit drab. It is not exciting. They feel more like mausoleums. There is a buzz in the air here. It’s certainly more fun and more vibrant at SpaceX and things are happening.
Via Satellite: Will SpaceX play a part in bringing commercial space travel closer to reality?
Musk: It depends on the threshold of cost. The Soyuz is expensive and is getting more expensive. In fact, I heard something truly outrageous in that NASA is planning on spending $75 million per seat on the Soyuz after the shuttle retires. Which makes us a real bargain since we’re only asking for $300 million to demonstrate crew transport to the space station and that includes a flight for seven people.
Via Satellite: Are you planning on developing services beyond just launch?
Musk: I look far ahead, but things are increasingly less defined as we go further out. My long-term goal is to lower costs and improve reliability to the point where we can make life multi-planetary. How do we get there? I’m not entirely certain. We’re going to keep upgrading the size and capability of our rockets, carry people and payloads into orbit and ultimately beyond. We do have some plans of developing some bigger engines and create more efficient engines and bigger stages, but they are very much at the conceptual level right now.
Via Satellite: Do you see yourself flying on a manned mission in the future?
Musk: I’d like to, but I can’t be engaged in any unnecessarily risky activities right now. I used to do risky things when I was younger. I flew a fighter jet for a while. I have five kids now and three companies to run, two of which are on a daily basis. I will do it eventually; I’m sure.