SpaceX chief Elon Musk tweeted Tuesday that Europe must aim higher with its rocket technology or risk becoming obsolete as the company continues to outcompete European companies, with Musk saying that SpaceX will be landing rockets and establishing a base on Mars “well before” Europe even begins to look into producing competitive rocketry.
The Tesla executive said “SpaceX will be landing Starships (a term for the company’s rockets) on Mars well before 2030,” responding to an Ars Technica report about Europe only beginning to study competing technology from 2030.
By that time, Musk said SpaceX would be focusing on the “hard threshold” of making its Martian base self-sustaining.
In the tweet thread, Musk said European rocket efforts are “aiming too low”, stating that only “rockets that are fully & rapidly reusable” are going to be competitive.
“Everything else will seem like a cloth biplane in the age of jets,” Musk said.
Three of SpaceX’s most recent reusable Starship prototypes ended test runs in flames, the latest just minutes after the team declared the mission a success.
Though EU-wide and member state space efforts often receive state funding, they are expected to attract commercial customers once operational. In a matter of years, SpaceX has eaten away at Europe’s market share by cutting its costs with reusable rockets. Meanwhile, the bloc is still lagging behind despite efforts to catch up.
Musk is an outspoken proponent of sending humanity out among the planets. In 2016, he unveiled a plan to build a Martian city in “our lifetimes,” though he said early colonists should be “prepared to die.” SpaceX’s reusable rocketry is a big part of making that vision a reality given the substantial costs involved with single-use ships. Musk’s Martian ambitions are not always well received, with Britain’s Astronomer Royal, Lord Martin Rees, recently describing Musk’s plans as a “dangerous delusion” and Senator Bernie Sanders criticizing Musk’s focus on settling other planets given the problems we have here on Earth. “We need to focus on Earth” before looking to Mars, he said.
$165.5 billion. That’s how much Forbes estimates Musk is worth. It makes him the second richest person on the planet, behind Amazon’s Jeff Bezos. Bezos also has a space project, Blue Origin, which he said he wanted to be more involved in when stepping down from Amazon.