FLATOW: But you only have one place to go, I mean, with this, right? I mean, well, can you build a business on just going to the space station?
MUSK: No. Actually, it's important to mention that SpaceX's - of the launches we have under contract - so we have about 40 launches under contract, and of those, only 13 are from NASA, 27 of them are commercial launches. And they are for delivering satellites of all kinds, like communication satellites, broadcast satellites, you know, things like DirecTV, XM radio, mapping satellites that do things like Google Maps, there's a lot of satellites - in fact, most satellites that are launched are actually not government satellites. So...
FLATOW: Yeah. So you're trying to do what the shuttle would have done with a smaller cargo bay, but - and be usable and come back but land on your thrusters, as you say.
MUSK: Yeah, yeah. That'll be version two. Version one, which is the current version, is - parachutes to a water landing because that was the safest way to go in the beginning. But version two is going to be able to land on thrusters, and it'll actually be capable of doing missions to, you know, other parts of the solar system as well and...
FLATOW: The moon?
MUSK: The moon's - yeah, it could potentially go to the moon.
FLATOW: How much cheaper - since you're doing this at, what, a quarter of the cost or something of what NASA or the Russians could do, how much cheaper could you get to the moon and back?
MUSK: Well, I think it's probably - well, it's sort of how much cheaper than what number, I guess.
FLATOW: Can you make it cheap enough to want to do it and to make it commercially feasible if no one else going to do it?
MUSK: I think we could - I'm actually fairly confident we could do manned missions to the moon in relatively short order if we had a customer that wanted to do that. And we'll certainly have some interesting announcements in the coming years that I think people will be pretty excited about.
FLATOW: Does that include Mars?
MUSK: Yeah. Mars is the ultimate goal and not just to visit, but to be able to develop a system that's capable of taking, ultimately, millions of people and millions of tons of cargo to Mars in order to create a self-sustaining civilization and make life multi-planetary.
FLATOW: Talking with Elon Musk on SCIENCE FRIDAY from NPR. So you're not afraid to think big?
Now there are very few big thinkers. You know, there's always, now, it just costs too much to do something, you know, in a multigenerational scale.
MUSK: Yes. Well, there's a tremendous amount of technology that has been to invented in order to do what I just mentioned, to create a civilization on Mars both in terms of the transport and the infrastructure on the ground on Mars. And Mars is a bit of a fixer-upper of a planet, so it's going to take a little bit of work, but it's the only viable option in the solar system. And outside of the solar system is really not possible because of the distances.
FLATOW: You're also teaming up with Paul Allen for something called Stratolaunch. Does this dovetail with that? Can you describe that a bit? And does this dove-tail with that or is it a totally separate project?
MUSK: That's a separate project and the basic premises for Stratolaunch is that there are satellite customers who are really want a lot of flexibility in launch location. So the rocket can be picked up by a giant aircraft and the launch can occur, I think, almost anywhere on Earth. That's the basic idea with Stratolaunch, or that's the premise. But it's independent from our other activities.
FLATOW: So like going back to the '60s with dropping an X-15 out of the belly of a bomber and shooting it up into space.
MUSK: Right, right. It doesn't result in a cost-savings, but it does result in increased launch life flexibility.