“Getting to orbit & back is harder than it may seem- Elon Musk on Neal Stephenson’s statement about rocket being overhyped
On a regular Friday feature show called “The Future in Five Questions”, Neal Stephenson, the sci-fi author was invited. He is the one who coined the word “metaverse” and is now a Web3 Entrepreneur in his own right.
Stephenson started off by discussing an important yet underappreciated concept.
Desalination, according to him, is seriously undervalued. It’s a really clear and straightforward approach. Drinking water is the most fundamental human need, so it kind of blends into the background, but when combined with inexpensive electricity from photovoltaics, it’s going to revolutionize the world. The idea that we could create new ways to obtain fresh water could be revolutionary when you consider how much water—or a lack thereof—has affected where people live and how people prepare food.
Later, when the question about what technology according to him is overrated was asked, his answer to the question is something that is in big talk now.
He said “I’m going to go with an oldie: rockets. It’s just a historical accident that chemical rockets became our only way of putting stuff into space, and if we had started at a different time we would have ended up doing something that works better.
One alternative would be beaming energy from the ground to vehicles, using lasers or microwaves. That seems like a doable project right now. There’s nuclear propulsion, which I think is probably never going to happen at scale because it’s politically impossible, but even something as simple as constructing a very tall building or a tall tower and using that as a launch platform, or as a way to accelerate things up upward, could really change the economics of spaceflight.”
After listening to the interview, Elon Musk, the CEO of Tesla replied saying, “Getting to orbit & back is harder than it may seem,” which has left people to wonder whether he was stating facts or being sarcastic.
Getting to orbit & back is harder than it may seem
— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) August 28, 2022