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Elon Musk in Guadalajara
Elon Musk speaks at a space conference in 2016. (SpaceX Photo)

Elon Musk, the billionaire CEO of Tesla and SpaceX, is really psyched about the electric pickup truck he’s got on the drawing board — and he’s also cool with the Space Force and Amazon founder Jeff Bezos’ Blue Origin space effort.

Those are just a few of the talking points that emerged when he sat down for an 80-minute Q&A on Halloween, after months of cajoling from Recode alpha-geek Kara Swisher.

The interview and the full transcript are online at Recode, so there’s no need to go into a lot of detail here. But here are five key quotes:

  • Jeff Bezos and Blue Origin: “I think it’s great that Jeff is spending lots of money on space. And they are a competitor, but it’s good that he’s spending money on … that he’s spending a lot of money on developing rockets. I think it will encounter some challenges getting to orbit, it’s remarkably difficult getting to orbit. But he has the resources to overcome those difficulties.”
  • Space Force: “This may be a little controversial, but I actually like the idea. I think it’s cool. You know, like, when the Air Force was formed, there was a lot of like pooh-poohing, and like, ‘Oh, how silly to have an Air Force!’ You know, because the aircraft in World War II were managed by the Army. … It’s basically defense in space. And then I think also it could be pretty helpful for maybe expanding our civilization … You know, expanding things beyond Earth.”
  • Mission to Mars in 2024: “We’re still aiming for 2024. … I’m not sure if there’ll be people onboard or not. But there is a Mars rendezvous opportunity, ’cause you can only do a launch to Mars roughly every two years. So around the 2024 timeframe, there’s a rendezvous opportunity for Mars, which hopefully we can catch. … Hopefully, there are people on board. But I think there’s a pretty good chance of at least having an unmanned craft go to Mars.”
  • Tesla pickup truck: “I can’t talk about the details, but it’s gonna be like a really futuristic like cyberpunk, ‘Blade Runner’ pickup truck. … If there’s only a small number of people that like that truck, I guess we’ll make a more conventional truck in the future. But it’s the thing that I am personally most fired up about. It’s gonna have a lot of titanium.”
  • Elon Musk’s annus horribilis: “This year felt like five years of aging, frankly. The worst year of my entire career. Insanely painful. … It’s been because of the Model 3 production ramp. Myself and others at Tesla, we had to go in and fix the mistakes in the Model 3 production system, and there were a lot of them. … I think at Tesla we’re doing pretty well right now. Tesla’s not staring death in the face. We’re in, I think, a pretty good position.”
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