Starting Over: Dreaming of Starting a New Nation State

Mr. Musk,

A month before Dragon docked with the ISS for the first time back in 2012 (a tremendous accomplishment), you had an interview with Wired magazine in which you compared the internet to humanity's collective nervous system. In an interview with The Worldpost last January, you called humanity a "superorganism." In adopting this perspective of humanity, you are in excellent company: Plato. Aristotle. Hegel. Karl Marx. Carl Jung. Jonas Salk. Adam Smith. And many others.

You have also declared life becoming multiplanetary to be the next great leap forward in evolution--analogous, perhaps, to life becoming multicellular. In that respect, spacecraft that transmit our living DNA will fertilize Mars in the same way that sperm fertilize an egg. Rockets and sperm both have a propulsory tail, a midpiece with stored energy, and a cargo-carrying head. Sperm have a protective acrosome cap that helps the head pass through the ovum's outer membrane, after which the cap breaks apart to expose the DNA; rockets have a payload fairing that streamlines and protects the rocket while it passes through the atmosphere of a planet, after which it is jettisoned, exposing the payload.

You dream of building a reusable rocket. Tomorrow, your dream will hopefully come one step closer to reality with a successful recovery of Falcon 9's first stage. (I'll be watching the launch in person! Good luck!) This technology will dramatically lower the economic cost of accessing space--yet it won't have as big of an impact on the energetic costs of accessing space. Each rocket that we send to orbit still needs to pay its own way in terms of fuel, and it needs more fuel to lift that fuel, and so on, leaving less available lift for the payload.

In the human body, this isn't a problem. Most of the energy that transports sperm toward the ovum is provided by the male's body through ejaculation. It is only once the sperm have been delivered through the lubricated urethra into the vagina that they begin using their on-board energy to propel themselves toward their goal.

According to NASA astronaut and chemical engineer Don Pettit, "If we want to break the tyranny of the rocket equation, new paradigms of operating and new technology will be needed." I'm sure you're familiar with a mass driver, a tubular structure that shoots large loads off of a planetary body into space. Such a structure would have a high start-up cost; but it would allow us to transport more mass into orbit with each launch, increasing our spacefaring capabilities and paying for itself over time. It might just "spread the legs of space," so to speak. Have you ever looked into the feasibility of building a mass driver? And have you ever considered how similar Hyperloop would be to such a structure? (Example.


p.s. I'm writing a book and you're in it.

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