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Shit Elon Says - Transcript - Elon Musk: You're Safe If My Spacecraft Crashes

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[Question about safety.] Well, that's actually a great question. With our Dragon spacecraft we've really tried to do everything possible to make the astronauts safe. "If somebody can think of something better to do, I'd love to hear it." I'll tell you about some important differences of Dragon compared to the prior spacecraft or even compared to the Soyuz, which is quite a reliable vehicle. First of all, the SuperDraco engines - you can see these thrusters that are side-mounted into the spacecraft - there are eight of them. They provide a redundant escape system, so, if something goes wrong with the rocket these thrusters fire and pull the astronauts away from the rocket. In fact, since there are eight of these engines there can actually be multiple engine failures and still the escape system will work. [And there's also parachutes.] Yes. If you go even beyond that and say, let's say the engines fail - there's a total propulsion system failure - we actually have a redundant parachute system on-board with dual drogues and three main chutes. I mean, it's like ridiculously - I mean, from a design standpoint I'm not sure what more one could do. It's got, like, multiple engines, multiple parachutes. "I mean, space is a dangerous thing." It's not something that - you know, humans didn't evolve to be spacefaring creatures, but in as much as one can make certain design decisions to make a spacecraft safe, we've endeavored to make those decisions, and I'm at a loss to think of anything more that we could do, and if we can think of something more, we'll do it.

[Question about commercial crew competition.] Well, I don't want to be complacent, or presumptuous about the contract. I think we've done everything we can to have this be a good design and I think we've shown to NASA - who's been an awesome supporter of SpaceX in the past. Frankly, we wouldn't be where we are today without NASA. I think we've shown that we can do a good job and hopefully that makes a difference for this competition.

[Question about congressional support.] Actually, the NASA competition, really will be independent of any Congressional influence. My experience with NASA is that they really are very objective. Frankly, if NASA wasn't so objective then we would not have won any of our earlier contracts because we would have been out-lobbied by the big aerospace companies - who have far more resources than we do. The reason I wanted to bring Dragon to Washington DC was really to show key Congressmen where US tax dollars would be going. At the end of the day, they are the ones controlling the purse strings for a competition, in general. So, they're not deciding the winners but they are deciding, is the amount of money allocated to a commercial human spaceflight program - is it going to be well spent? Does it have a chance of success? "Ya know, there's a lot of people who think that human spaceflight should not be allowed in the commercial sector. It's sort of an odd position I think, but there's still a lot of people who feel that way." So, Congress need to think, okay, well, if this taxpayer money is spent, does it seem like it would have a good outcome, and seeing it in person is just a lot more convincing than seeing it on paper.

[Question about the lawsuit.] I don't know. I don't know if we'll win. In the long term, I have faith in the American system of government and I think in the long term we've got a good shot. In the short to medium term, it's much harder to say where things are going, and of course, in order to get to the long term we've got to get through the short to medium term. I just find it odd that we have to fight so hard just for there to be competition for national security launches. It just doesn't feel right.


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