Chairman's Forum: Elon Musk

Stimson Spotlight

Chairman's Forum: Elon Musk

It's a whole new world to think about the privatization of space, but Elon Musk has done just that.  Musk took the stage at Stimson yesterday, shortly after announcing the launch date for the world's largest rocket built by his company, SpaceX

"The Falcon Heavy launch vehicle will be the most capable vehicle of any kind on Earth. It will put more than twice the payload capability of the space shuttle into orbit, and has twice the thrust of the biggest Russian rocket, and biggest U.S. rocket. It's quite an epic vehicle."

Musk also covered a range of space sector and space security topics with Lincoln Bloomfield, Jr., Stimson's chairman of the board, for the sixth installment of his series, the Chairman's Forum.  Issues explored during this lively discussion include:

  • Humans becoming a multi-planetary species: "Life becoming multi-planetary is at least as important as life going from the oceans to land. If there is something that is arguably as important as fitting on the scale of the evolution of life itself, it should be considered important and deserve some small portion of our resources to accomplish. Perhaps we can bound (this amount) quite easily by saying it should be much less than what we spend on healthcare, but more than what we spend on lipstick."
  • The colonization of Mars versus the Moon: "The reason I favor Mars over the Moon is that Mars really has the potential for a true planet-class civilization, because it's a planet. You have a very small habitable zone near the poles on the Moon. I consider the moon to be kind of analogous to the Arctic. The Arctic was very close to Europe but it (had sustainability challenges). That's why America isn't there."
  • Protecting satellites: "We're very supportive of national security goals as well as civil space and commercial goals. In terms of anti-satellite capabilities we need to pay closer attention to having defense systems on satellites, basically being able to dodge missiles. You can build ground-based anti-satellite missiles a lot faster than you can launch satellites."
  • Long-range goals during a budgetary crisis -- advice to Washington political leaders: "I think people should have some sense of perspective and realize that things are actually pretty great... and we all live really great lives in the U.S. We certainly need to decrease the amount of government spending... but we need to not sacrifice tomorrow for today."

To view the Chairman's Forum with Elon Musk in its entirety, go to: or see below.


About the Chairman's Forum:

The Chairman's Forum is a strategic conversation, featuring respected opinion leaders in the foreign and security policy arena. Bloomfield holds these informal discussions about eight times a year to address the most relevant global issues we face today.  Past guests include Senator Lindsey Graham (S.C.), Rep. Howard Berman (Calif.), and former Deputy Secretary of State Richard Armitage.


About the Stimson Center:

The Stimson Center, a nonprofit institution, has worked to combine research and analysis with a commitment to fostering dialogue on improved, pragmatic, and nonpartisan policies. Stimson researches a variety of issues that focus on reducing the threat of weapons of mass destruction, building regional security, and strengthening institutions for international peace and security. 

Learn about our previous Chairman's Forum guests here.


For more information about the Stimson Center and its work, visit

To learn more about SpaceX, visit