Space: the final frontier. Elon Musk: the man who wants to boldly go where no man has gone before.
OK, I confess to being a "space nut." But hey, at least I’m in good company along with the visionary tech entrepreneur, PayPal (PYPL) co-founder and Tesla Motors (TSLA) and SpaceX CEO.
This week, Elon Musk announced what is not only his most-ambitious undertaking ever … but perhaps the most-ambitious mission the human race has ever taken on.
That undertaking is the manned space flight to, and ultimately the colonization of, Mars — and roughly within the next decade.
That is indeed a bold plan. But if anyone can pull it off, it’s the man who created a new way of paying for things digitally … a new way to make electric cars luxurious, fast and cool … and the man who created the first viable privately owned rocket company.
The essence of Musk’s vision here is that there will be numerous giant, reusable rockets standing more than 300 feet tall that will eventually launch fleets of carbon-fiber spacecraft into orbit.
The boosters would then return to Earth, and blast off again into space with "tanker spaceships" that would refuel the initial vehicles … thereby enabling their journey to the Red Planet.
Speaking Tuesday at the International Astronautical Congress in Guadalajara, Mexico, Musk told the audience:
"This is not about everyone moving to Mars, this is about becoming multiplanetary … This is really about minimizing existential risk and having a tremendous sense of adventure."
A sense of adventure is something Elon Musk has plenty of. It’s also something I think every human being should have. And, there is no bigger adventure than human space travel.
Musk’s ambition knows few boundaries. And though he admits his timetable for the Mars travel is optimistic, he firmly believes it is possible to begin shuttling thousands of people between Earth and Mars sometime within the next decade.
Then in the decades ahead (maybe the next four to 10 decades), Musk sees Mars as home to a self-sustaining colony of a million people.
Now, aside from a sense of adventure ingrained in only the boldest of human explorers, why is Musk embarking on this journey?
Here Musk told filmmaker Ron Howard during an interview for National Geographic Channel’s MARS series:
"The future of humanity is fundamentally going to bifurcate along one of two directions: Either we’re going to become a multiplanet species and a spacefaring civilization, or we’re going be stuck on one planet until some eventual extinction event."
It is this kind of long-timeline thinking that is really impressive here, because obviously Elon Musk doesn’t think he’s going to be around in 50 years to live in a Mars colony.
|(Click here to see an animated version of Elon Musk’s vision).|
Yet that’s what visionaries tend to do. They tend to tackle long-term projects as if they were short-term problems.
By doing so, they get more done now than anyone would have thought they could have.
I call this a sense of urgency applied to a long-term goal.
Now, another aspect of this Mars plan that I think is so interesting is that it defies the traditional notions that space exploration can only be done via big-government super-science such as NASA’s original Apollo project.
Here Musk’s ideas represents a radical departure from NASA’s so-called "building-blocks approach" to space exploration.
As per a Wall Street Journal article on the Musk announcement:
Mr. Musk’s speech portends a space policy debate unlike any that has played out across the U.S. — or for that matter, in the capitals of other space-faring nations. The focus is shifting to whether such entrepreneurial initiatives, or a combination of private-public funding, are best suited to further deep space exploration.
And there you have it: the key to getting things done in society.
That is to say, you first need the individual spark of a brilliant mind with a vision of greatness.
Once you have that, and you definitely have that in Elon Musk, then it is OK to let the fiscal, scientific and logistic resources of government agencies such as NASA get involved.
Even Musk agrees here. He says that in the end, the ambitious Mars travel/colonization plan likely "is going to be a huge public-private partnership."
Finally, this topic is fascinating enough without having to bring in an "investable" element to the situation. Yet there is an investable angle here, or at least there likely will be at some point.
While SpaceX is not yet a public company, Musk’s baby is now estimated by some analysts to be worth more than $10 billion. That’s the value even with the recent mishap and still-unexplained explosion of the company’s flagship Falcon 9 rocket during routine tests about four weeks ago.
No doubt the ambitious Musk will, at some point, take SpaceX public the same way he took Tesla public. Since its IPO about six years ago, Tesla shares are up nearly 750%.
If SpaceX even comes close to replicating that feat, well, I think that’s an investable angle.
Are you as "space nut" like I am? Are you excited about the possibilities of becoming a multiplanetary species? I am curious to find out what you think, so please leave me a comment on our website or send me an e-mail.
Oil kept up Wednesday’s momentum, with WTI crude gaining 1.6% to close at a one-month high of $47.83. But this surge failed to lift U.S. stocks for a second day in a row. In Thursday’s session, the Dow lost just shy of 200 points to end the day 1% lower, weighed down by financials.
• Another up day for energy stocks: Royal Dutch Shell (RDS-A) gained 2%, after yesterday’s 5% gain. BP plc (BP) added 0.6%, after yesterday’s 4.3% surge. And Total (TOT) added 1% after yesterday’s 4.5% gain.
• It was the opposite story for the banks: The Financial Select Sector SPDR (XLF) fell 1.4% as Wells Fargo (WFC) CEO John Stumpf returned to Capitol Hill and trouble brewed at two German financial institutions …
• All-time low for Deutsche Bank (DB): The embattled European banking giant that’s facing its own version of a "Lehman moment" slid 6.7% to close at $11.48. Compare that to the stock’s 52-week high of $30.82.
• And the second-biggest bank in Germany, Commerzbank, scrapped its dividend and cut some 20% of its workforce. Its shares fell 3% on the Xetra stock exchange in Frankfurt.
• Real gross domestic product (GDP) increased at an annual rate of 1.4% in the second quarter of 2016, according to today’s third estimate. Profits from current production decreased $12.5 billion in the second quarter, compared with an increase of $66 billion in the first. (Economics and Statistics Administration)
• Pending home sales fell for the third month in a row, down 2.4% in August. The biggest slump was in the south, the largest housing market in the country, due to a lack of available properties.
• Congress handed President Obama the first veto override of his administration. After he vetoed a bill that would allow 9/11 victims’ families to sue Saudi Arabia, the House voted 348-to-77 to overturn the veto. The Senate voted 97-to-1.
Good luck and happy investing,
Uncommon Wisdom Daily