Last night, Stephen Colbert interviewed Elon Musk for The Colbert Report. As you can imagine, Colbert wheedled out some exclusives from the CEO of SpaceX and Tesla Motors, and described his ideal version of the future that he’d like Musk to make happen. Funnily enough, it sounded a lot like Nikola Tesla’s vision. More fascinating and hilarious details after the jump!
In the 10-minute interview, Musk discussed the next software upgrade for Tesla vehicles. Tesla owners will soon be able to formally name their cars, “Like a pet,” to enhance their user experience. In admitting that, unsurprisingly, he already has the software prototype in his own car, Musk revealed that his car is named Old Faithful. Musk and Colbert also discussed Tesla Motors’ recent public release of all their electric car patents. Colbert posed the question, “Why are you giving away the store like that?” Musk’s response? “If we’re all in a ship together and there’s some holes in the ship, and we’re bailing water out, and we have a great design for a bucket, even if we’re bailing out way better than everybody else, we should probably share the bucket design.”
Musk and Colbert also discussed SpaceX’s development of reusable rockets and showed some remarkable footage of a recent test flight — “badass” was Colbert’s frank description — that demonstrates a rocket launching then returning to the ground to land base first. Musk stated his aim is “to achieve full and rapid reusability with rockets.” He pointed out that people would not accept single-use cars or aircraft because they would be too expensive, so similarly, rockets should be reusable to make space exploration viable. The point was also raised that this technology would be necessary to make SpaceX’s return missions to a permanent base on Mars possible.
Musk also confirmed that Russia’s recent decision to no longer transport U.S. payloads to the International Space Station means SpaceX and their competitor, Orbital Sciences, are the only companies with the capability to do this, and SpaceX is the only U.S. firm that is able to bring cargo back again. It turns out the Russian decision has been a windfall for Musk. Colbert suggested he send them flowers. Musk also revealed SpaceX is hoping to be able to transport astronauts in about two to three years. Watch this space.