Why Hasn’t Elon Musk Been To Space?: Jeff Bezos decided to mark the first success of the long-running New Shepard project with a flight to space, literally. And Richard Branson recently did the same with Virgin Galactic.
However, something is off with the CEO of SpaceX, Elon Musk. Despite having made so many breakthroughs in space travel, Elon Musk has never once taken a trip to space. But, Why is that? Well, we will find out in just a second.
Elon Musk was at the Kennedy Space Center in Florida on the day SpaceX’s first space tourists launched, clapping as the private astronauts walked past the Tesla that would transport them to suit.
Musk was there to personally congratulate him after successfully landing after orbiting the Earth 45 times. The Inspiration 4 mission was SpaceX’s fourth successful human spaceflight, and a SpaceX executive said the firm expects to launch “at least three, four, five and six times a year to paying customers.”
After all, he is the only person on the planet who can launch his own rocket into space if he so desires. He could spend an entire week gazing at the scenery from the Dragon capsule, embarrassing other space millionaires.
So if it’s so easy for him to do it compared to other billionaires and competitors, why hasn’t he done it yet? Well, only Elon Musk can explain why he didn’t follow in the footsteps of fellow billionaires Richard Branson and Jeff Bezos to take a brief trip into space.
However, Marina Koren of The Atlantic proposed an idea – and it’s pretty simple. Koren spoke with Garrett Reisman, a retired NASA astronaut and engineering professor at the University of Southern California who currently serves as a SpaceX senior advisor to Musk.
Musk paid a deposit for future travel on Branson’s Virgin Galactic, but the business, like Bezos’s Blue Origin, only offers suborbital flights.
Furthermore, Blue Origin has argued that Virgin Galactic’s flights don’t really qualify because Blue Origin travels high. Musk could without a doubt declare himself an astronaut while flying in SpaceX’s Dragon spacecraft.
Surely his team can whip together a spacesuit in his size, and Musk isn’t famous for being afraid to take risks. In 2015, he stood atop a flying jet in a feat known as the “wing walk”.
Despite this, Musk has lived safely on Earth during the space millionaires’ summer. Garrett Reisman has some insight as well. Reisman is a senior advisor at SpaceX, where he previously worked on the company’s program to transport NASA astronauts. Initially, Reisman met with Musk to discuss some specifics about future crewed flights.
Boeing, which was developing its system with help from NASA, had decided that its first test flight would carry a NASA astronaut and an astronaut employed by Boeing. That flight hasn’t happened yet due to hardware and software problems.
Reisman said a similar arrangement at SpaceX “could be good for morale”: the chance to become a company astronaut would certainly energize the workforce. “And he looked at me and he said, ‘Why would anyone want to go to low-Earth orbit?\’”
What Reisman took away from that exchange was that Musk doesn’t find it so impressive to reach low-Earth orbit, where hundreds of satellites, the International Space Station, and most of the astronauts in space have spent their time.
Musk certainly understands the stakes, and he wants SpaceX to do spaceflight well. After the first astronauts to test Dragon arrived home last year, beating Boeing to the milestone, Musk said he “isn’t very religious, but I prayed for it.”
But his focus has always been on the moon and Mars. In Musk’s mind, humanity should already have a base on the lunar surface, and he founded SpaceX two decades ago because he resented the lack of progress on NASA’s Mars mission.
Musk’s goal is to reach and build a city on Mars, and as he often says, “make life multi-planetary.” Reisman went on to say that if launching on Dragon’s next flight would mean moving closer to that future, Musk would do so.
“He’s not only interested in the thrill of it,” Reisman said. Musk has said in the past that he intends to one day fly on Dragon. But it may be more his style of choosing a journey that represents a major step forward in human expansion into space.
Some former SpaceX employees suggested that Musk might be aboard one of the first crewed flights of Starship, the spacecraft SpaceX is developing to reach the Moon and Mars. It will certainly be a little more important.
Again, Elon Musk is in a league of his own. Unlike Bezos and Branson, Musk doesn’t have to demonstrate the capabilities of his rocket and capsule.
SpaceX is already one of the world’s most trusted spaceflight firms, and its Falcon 9 rocket is regarded as an industry activist. Bezos intended to show that if Blue Origin was safe for him, it would be safe for his customers, but Musk had already proven SpaceX’s safety by launching professional astronauts.
So is there any point in proving anything by jumping on one of the rockets and traveling in low orbit? Musk is also not the showman that Branson has always been or that Bezos has become. He’s more likely to go on jargon-laden tangents about rocket engines.
Musk still has a lot of work to do on Earth and is bound by sanctions. On Monday, shortly after traveling with the Inspiration4 team in Florida, he boarded his private jet and returned to South Texas, where engineers and technicians are hard at work on the Starship.
With things looking up, he certainly hopes to have a prototype flying into orbit by the end of the year. Simultaneously, Musk is promoting electric vehicle research at his other prestigious firm, Tesla. Tesla, unlike SpaceX, is a publicly listed business with a board of directors.
And, while Musk hasn’t always been the best-behaved CEO, space flight will take him to an entirely new level. Bezos resigned as Amazon CEO just days before his trip this summer, and when he told CNN that he could have taken this flight as Amazon CEO and that it would have been okay, there was some skepticism. that their suborbital excursions were deemed too dangerous for anyone.
An orbital space flight is an entirely different matter, with far greater dangers. Many former SpaceX employees also believe, unlike others, that Musk will not travel to space until he is convinced that Tesla and SpaceX can work without his personal efforts.
Even if SpaceX reaches Mars in its lifetime, Musk is unlikely to be among the first to set foot on the planet. He has said that he “would prefer to die on Mars, not on impact,” and that the initial missions would be the most dangerous.
It’s hard to picture Musk, who is notorious for his absurdly long assignments, giving up on his other interests, or even enjoying a week-long vacation in low-Earth orbit. If he stays behind long enough, the man who has the potential to dramatically change mankind’s position in space may not get there himself.
Expecting Elon Musk to travel to suborbital space in the near future still wouldn’t be without merit. One of the most important things to remember though is that Musk works for SpaceX on a very different basis than Bezos and Branson.
He has to answer directly to investors and also retain important employees like Gwynne Shotwell. Finally, Musk may have the opportunity to go to space and cement his legacy once and forever if all goes according to plan with Starship.