The message was loaded with references to the fictional Star Trek Starfleet. Musk used anecdotes from the fictional entity to hammer down his message that reusable rockets are the ticket to the future
Fremont, CA: SpaceX founder Elon Musk delivered his usual thoughts on the growing importance of reusable rockets, speaking at his first appearance at the U.S. Space Force. His message was delivered to a crowd of airmen who started their careers at the U.S. Air Force but are now pondering new opportunities at the new establishment. Musk had a one-hour long fireside chat with the commander of the Space Force’s Space and Missile Systems Center Lt. Gen. John Thompson at the Air Force Association’s annual winter symposium.
Musk posed a question to the crowd, "How do we make Starfleet real?" A simple yet powerful question that was met with roaring applause from the audience. Answering his question, Musk insisted that the use of reusable launch vehicles is going to be absolutely fundamental to achieving the military's space ambitions, including staying ahead of China. A majority of his comments on reusable rocket technology were a repetition of his own statements at his previous appearance at an Air Force conference at San Francisco back in November last year.
The message was loaded with references to the fictional Star Trek Starfleet. Musk used anecdotes from the fictional entity to hammer down his message that reusable rockets are the ticket to the future. "I think we can go a long way to make Starfleet real and these utopian futures real. But none of this can happen as long as the military continues to rely on expendable boosters," said Musk.
SpaceX has achieved a considerable amount of commercial success and lucrative government contracts with the Falcon 9 and Falcon Heavy rockets. However, Musk and SpaceX are dedicated to developing their new Starship vehicle that is being designed to be utterly reusable like an airplane. Currently, the Falcon 9 and Falcon Heavy rockets are only partially reusable, with the first stage and fairings being recovered more frequently now.
During his hour-long conversation, Musk did not mention how the military might be slowly returning to reusable rockets. For the upcoming launch of GPS satellite on April 29 on a Falcon 9 rocket, Space and Missile Systems Center has allowed SpaceX to attempt to land the booster on a drone ship at sea, a first for a national security launch. Musk did express his opinion on the Starship being a radical innovation that will keep the United States in the lead as other nations such as China advance their space capabilities. “I have zero doubt that if the United States does not create innovations in space, it will be second in space,” said Musk. In his vision, the Starship will be the vehicle that will enable access to deep space and the eventual colonization of Mars. However, his plans have drawn both praises and skepticisms from the masses.
"Other companies might want to start building fully reusable vehicles like Starship and create a more competitive industry," said Musk. "Competition is a good thing." Amidst other topics, Musk took a jab at the Pentagon's most extensive fighter aircraft program, the F-35. He suggested there should be more disruptive competition in the defense industry.
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