By Carlo Versano
Elon Musk says there's a 70 percent chance he'll go to Mars ー even though there's also a good chance he won't come back.
Musk spoke on his plans to personally take the SpaceX Starship (formerly known as the BFR) to Mars in an interview with Axios broadcast Sunday on HBO, during which he also said that Tesla was "single-digit weeks" from dying this spring and summer.
The ramp-up in Model 3 production took a far heavier toll on both Tesla ($TSLA) and his own well-being than Musk said he had anticipated.
“Essentially, the company was bleeding money like crazy, and if we didn’t solve these problems in a very short period of time, we would die. And it was extremely difficult to solve them,” he said.
Musk added that his own work schedule ー 22 hours a day, 7 days a week for a time ー was "not recommended for anyone" but that Tesla would have folded if he didn't work as hard as he did.
As Motor Authority's Joel Feder pointed out on Cheddar Monday, Tesla had other brushes with insolvency in the past. "This is not the first time," he said. "They've come far closer to dying, and I think people forget that."
Feder also noted that Musk could have caused a run on the stock if he had been more upfront about Tesla's precarious state at the time.
After surviving that "production hell," as he termed it earlier this year, the 47-year-old now says he's ready to personally take on the Red Planet. Musk told Axios without hesitation that there was a "70 percent" chance he would travel to Mars and maybe even move there, though he admitted there was a "good chance" of dying either en route or once on the planet.
Musk compared the allure of interplanetary space exploration to climbing Mount Everest or exploring the Antarctic, and cited a "recent number of breakthroughs" at SpaceX that will make travel to Mars possible.
But he didn't sugarcoat the reality of Mars life.
"It's going to be hard, there's a good chance of death ーgoing in a little can through deep space, you might land successfully," he said. "Once you get there, even after doing all this, there's a very harsh environment so there's a good chance you die there. We think you can come back, but we're not sure."
But Musk has another mission to complete first. Before a Mars trip happens, the Starship is scheduled to fly Japanese billionaire Yusaku Maezawa around the moon in 2023.
And then there's the less fanciful but more critical issue of running his public car company. The Model 3 has received rave reviews and has a ride-or-die fan base, but its success is not a foregone conclusion, as Feder noted. In addition to all his other jobs, Musk needs to be laser-focused on the two-to-three year horizon, when the big German luxury makers are expected to refine and expand their current electric offerings.
"Suddenly, there are going to be other alternatives to Tesla with 200 to 300 miles in range," Feder said.
For full interview click here.