Updated Dec 15, 2017

Elon Musk's SpaceX has transformed the launch industry, and is working to make Mars colonization a reality. Scroll down to read the quotes, or watch Elon Musk's 2016 & 2017 talks on Making Humans a Multiplanetary Species.

Feel free to let me know in the comments what your favorite quote is. Enjoy!

  1. “I think fundamentally the future is vastly more exciting and interesting if we're a spacefaring civilization and a multiplanet species than if we're or not. You want to be inspired by things. You want to wake up in the morning and think the future is going to be great. And that's what being a spacefaring civilization is all about.” (Sep, 2017 | Source)

  2. “Falcon 9 lands on a single-engine, and that the final landing is always done with a single engine whereas the with BFR we will always have multi-engine out capability. So if you can get to a very high reliability with even a single engine, and then you can land with either of two engines, I think we can get to a landing reliability that is on par with the safest commercial airliners. So you can essentially count on the landing. You want minimum pucker factor on landing. And it can land with also very high precision. In fact we believe the precision at this point is good enough for propulsive landing that we do not need legs for the next version. It will literally land with so much precision it will land back on its launch mounts.” (Sep, 2017 | Source)

  3. “The launch rate is increasing exponentially. Particularly when you take tanking or refilling on orbit into account, and taking the idea of establishing a self-sustaining base on Mars or the moon or elsewhere seriously, you need ultimately thousands of ships and tens of thousands of retanking or refilling operations, which means you need many launches per day. In terms of how many landings are occurring, you need to be looking at your watch, not your calendar.” (Sep, 2017 | Source)

  4. “Dragon 2 will directly dock with the Space Station, and it can do so with zero human intervention. You just press 'go' and it will dock.” (Sep, 2017 | Source)

  5. “We [SpaceX] started off with just a few people who really didn't know how to make rockets. And the reason that I ended up being the chief engineer or chief designer, was not because I want to, it's because I couldn't hire anyone. Nobody good would join. So I ended up being that by default. And I messed up the first three launches.” (Sep, 2017 | Source)

  6. “[With the BFR] you’ve got the engine section in the rear, the propellant tanks in the middle, and then a large payload bay in the front. And that payload bay is actually eight stories tall. In fact, you can fit a whole stack of Falcon 1 rockets in the payload bay.” (Sep, 2017 | Source)

  7. “There is a small delta wing at the back of the rocket. The reason for that is in order to expand the mission envelope of the BFR spaceship. Depending on whether you're landing or you're entering a planet or a moon that has no atmosphere, a thin atmosphere, or a dense atmosphere, and depending on whether you're re-entering with no payload in the front, a small payload, or a heavy payload, you have to balance the rocket out as it's coming in. And so the delta wing at the back, which also includes a split flap for pitch and roll control, allows us to control the pitch angle despite having a wide range of payloads in the nose and a wide range of atmospheric densities. So we tried to avoid having the delta wing, but it was necessary in order to generalize the capability of the spaceship such that it could land anywhere in the solar system.” (Sep, 2017 | Source)

  8. “If we can build a system that cannibalizes our own products, makes our own products redundant, then all of the resources, which are quite enormous, that are used for Falcon 9, Heavy, and Dragon, can be applied to one system. Some of our customers are conservative and they want to see BFR fly several times before they're comfortable launching on it, so what we plan to do is to build ahead and have a stock of Falcon 9 and Dragon vehicles so that customers can be comfortable. If they want to use the old rocket, the old spacecraft, they can do that, because we'll have a bunch in stock, but all of our resources will then turn towards building BFR, and we believe that we can do this with the revenue we receive for launching satellites and for servicing the Space Station.” (Sep, 2017 | Source)

  9. “The size of this [BFR] being a 9 meter diameter vehicle is a huge enabler for new satellites. We can actually send something that is almost nine meters in diameter to orbit. So for example, if you want to do a new Hubble, you could send a mirror that has ten times the surface area of the current Hubble, as a single unit. Doesn't have to unfold or anything. Or you can send a large number of small satellites. You do whatever you like.” (Sep, 2017 | Source)

  10. “Sometimes I get some sort of criticism for why are you using combustion and rockets and you have electric cars. Well there isn't some way to make an electric rocket. I wish there was. But in the long term you can use solar power to extract CO2 from the atmosphere, combine it with water, and produce fuel and oxygen for the rocket. So the same thing that we’re [going to do] doing on Mars, we could do on Earth in the long-term.” (Sep, 2017 | Source)

  11. “In 2024 we want to try to fly four ships [to Mars]. Two cargo and two crew. The goal of these initial missions is to find the best source of water, that's for the first mission, and then the second mission, the goal is to build the propellant plant. So we should, particular with six ships there, have plenty of landed mass to construct the propellant depot, which will consist of a large array of solar panels, a very large array, and then everything necessary to mine and refine water, and then draw the CO2 out of the atmosphere, and then create and store deep-cryo CH4 and O2.” (Sep, 2017 | Source)

  12. "When starting SpaceX I thought the odds of success were less than 10%, and I just accepted that I would probably just lose everything. But that maybe we would make some progress. If we could just move the ball forward, even if we died some other company could pick up the baton and keep moving it forward. So that would still do some good." (Sep, 2016 | Source)

  13. "Oddly enough, I actually think the odds [of a Mars colony] are pretty good. At this point I am certain there is a way. I’m certain success is one of the possible outcomes for establishing a self sustaining Mars colony, in fact a growing Mars colony. I’m certain that it’s possible. Whereas until maybe a few years ago I was unsure whether success was even one of the possible outcomes." (Sep, 2016 | Source)

  14. "In terms of people going to Mars, I think this is potentially something that could be accomplished in about 10 years, maybe sooner, maybe 9 years. I need to make sure SpaceX doesn’t die between now and then, and that I don’t die. Or if I do die, that someone takes over who will continue that." (Sep, 2016 | Source)

  15. "It [the ISS] seems really still, but it's moving really, really fast. To put that into perspective, a bullet from a .45 handgun is just below the speed of sound, so the Space Station is going more than 25 times faster than that. And that's what's needed, actually, to go up and stay up. That's why there's the term escape velocity, not escape altitude. There's no such thing as an escape altitude. There's only escape velocity.” (June, 2016 | Source)

  16. "You can think of gravity as kind of a funnel in spacetime. Think about it like a coin funnel. It's very much like that, but it's obviously a sort of four dimensional coin funnel. If you spin a marble or a coin on a coin funnel, when it's far out it spins slowly and as it gets closer it spins faster and faster. If you were to start at the bottom of the coin funnel and wanted to exit, you'd spin it horizontally and it would spin out. And that's really how you get to orbit. Gravity is like a funnel." (June, 2016 | Source)

  17. "In order to get to orbit, all that matters is your horizontal velocity. Your altitude doesn't really matter. In fact the force of gravity at the nominal boundary of space, 100 kilometers, is almost exactly the same as it is on the surface of the Earth. It's a few percent lower than on the surface of the Earth. In order to go up and stay up the only thing that matters is how fast you are going horizontal to the Earth's surface. So you have that outward radial acceleration, or think about it like tetherball or something like that. It's really that outward accelerate is the thing that matters." (June, 2016 | Source)

  18. "I think that when I say multi-planet species, that's what we really want to be. It's not like still being a single-planet species by moving planets. It's really being a multi-planet species and having civilization and life as we know it extend beyond Earth to the rest of the Solar System, and ultimately to other star systems. That's the future that's exciting and expiring and I that's what, you know, you need things like that to be glad to wake up in the morning. Life can't be just about solving problems. There have to be things that are exciting and inspiring that make you glad to be alive." (June, 2016 | Source)

  19. "I think if you're going to choose a place to die, then Mars is probably, you know, not a bad choice… It's not some sort of Martian death wish, or something. But, yeah, if you're going to born on Earth, die on Mars, sounds pretty good." (June, 2016 | Source)

  20. "SpaceX is only 12 years old now [as of 2014]. Between now and 2040, the company’s lifespan will have tripled. If we have linear improvement in technology, as opposed to logarithmic, then we should have a significant base on Mars, perhaps with thousands or tens of thousands of people." (Sep, 2014 | Source)

  21. "If the objective was to achieve the best risk adjusted return, starting a rocket company is insane. But that was not my objective. I had certainly come to the conclusion that if something didn’t happen to improve rocket technology we would be stuck on earth forever. And the big aerospace companies had no interest in radical innovation. All they wanted to do was make their old technology slightly better every year, and sometimes it would actually get worse." (Sep, 2016 | Source)

  22. "There needs to be an intersection of the set of people who wish to go [to Mars], and the set of people who can afford to go. And that intersection of sets has to be enough to establish a self-sustaining civilisation. My rough guess is that for a half-million dollars, there are enough people that could afford to go and would want to go. But it’s not going to be a vacation jaunt. It’s going to be saving up all your money and selling all your stuff, like when people moved to the early American colonies." (Sep, 2014 | Source)

  23. “Even at a million [people living on Mars], you’re really assuming an incredible amount of productivity per person, because you would need to recreate the entire industrial base on Mars. You would need to mine and refine all of these different materials, in a much more difficult environment than Earth. There would be no trees growing. There would be no oxygen or nitrogen that are just there. No oil." (Sep, 2014 | Source)

  24. "I’d like to go [to mars], but if there is a high risk of death, I wouldn’t want to put the company in jeopardy. I only want to go when I could be confident that my death wouldn’t result in the primary mission of the company falling away." (Sep, 2014 | Source)

  25. "Rockets are the only form of transportation on Earth where the vehicle is built anew for each journey. What if you had to build a new plane for every flight?" (Sep, 2014 | Source)

  26. “What I’m trying to do is to make a significant difference in space flight and help make space flight accessible to almost anyone.” (Mar, 2012 | Source)

  27. "All modes of transport will be fully electric with the ironic exception of rockets. There’s no way around Newton’s 3rd law.” (Feb, 2013 | Source)

  28. "The fast way [to warm mars] is to drop thermonuclear weapons over the poles." (Sep, 2015 | Source)

  29. "I Would Like to Die on Mars, Just Not on Impact." (Mar, 2013 | Source)

  30. "I’m talking about sending ultimately tens of thousands, eventually millions of people to Mars and then going out there and exploring the stars." (May, 2012 | Source)

  31. “We have a strict ‘no-assholes policy’ at SpaceX.” (Jun, 2008 | Source)

  32. "We’ll go to the moons of Jupiter, at least some of the outer ones for sure, and probably Titan on Saturn, and the asteroids. Once we have that forcing function, and an Earth-to-Mars economy, we’ll cover the whole Solar System. But the key is that we have to make the Mars thing work. If we’re going to have any chance of sending stuff to other star systems, we need to be laser-focused on becoming a multi-planet civilisation. That’s the next step." (Sep, 2014 | Source)

  33. "I’m not saying I’m skeptical of [traveling to] the stars. I just wonder what humanity will even look like when we try to do that. If we can establish a Mars colony, we can almost certainly colonise the whole Solar System, because we’ll have created a strong economic forcing function for the improvement of space travel.” (Sep, 2014 | Source)

  34. "It’s pretty hard to get to another star system. Alpha Centauri is four light years away, so if you go at 10 per cent of the speed of light, it’s going to take you 40 years, and that’s assuming you can instantly reach that speed, which isn’t going to be the case. You have to accelerate. You have to build up to 20 or 30 per cent and then slow down, assuming you want to stay at Alpha Centauri and not go zipping past." (Sep, 2014 | Source)

  35. "The Soviets were crowing after Sputnik, about how they had better technology than we did, and so therefore communism is better. And so we set a really tough target and said we would beat them there, and money was no object. But once the ideological battle was won, the impetus went away, and money very quickly became an object." (Sep, 2014 | Source)

  36. "It’s obvious that space is deeply ingrained in the American psyche." (Sep, 2014 | Source)

Cover photo from SpaceX