Tesla and SpaceX CEO Elon Musk held a press conference today at SpaceX HQ (via Bloomberg) to discuss a number of his company’s upcoming initiatives, including a new engineering office in Seattle, as well as next-generation autonomous driving features for Tesla, and the progress of SpaceX’s reusable rocket program, in light of a near-successful recapture of the stage 1 rocket during this week’s Dragon launch.
Musk mostly retread old territory, talking about the new satellite engineering facility in Seattle (which is actually dedicated to satellite development, in addition to actually being a satellite office, yuk yuk) and how it will pave the way for Musk’s ultimate goal of colonizing Mars within his lifetime. The ambitious CEO has discussed Mars colonization in the past, first in October as a viable option for preserving the future of humanity. He’s also promised more recently to reveal more details of his colonization plan this year, of which SpaceX’s satellite plans act as one small part.
Other topics up for discussion at the event included Tesla’s sales goals: The electric car-maker wants to ship 100,000 vehicles per year, which is a steep incline from its 33,000 shipping total for all of 2014. That was limited by its ability to produce enough vehicles to meet demand, however, and Musk said that plans to ship the SUV format Model X in the third quarter of this year, as previously announced.
The Model X won’t just be news because it will offer the convenience factors of a larger vehicle, but because it will be different in other regards from what’s come before. Musk said that it will feature “a whole bunch of things […] that have not been revealed,” according to Bloomberg, and that it will have autonomous driving features that are “a step beyond” what we’ve already seen from the company in that area. Musk has previously stated that Tesla will lead the market in autonomous driving, offering something akin to “autopilot” for its cars before anyone else does so in consumer models.
The SpaceX CEO also discussed the recent landing attempt for the first stage rocket that helped propel Dragon to its fifth resupply mission for the International Space Station. The rocket nearly succeeded in touching down for a landing aboard a SpaceX autonomous seafaring spaceport barge, but ran out of hydraulic fluid and landed hard instead, damaging the platform. Musk says that in around three weeks time, they’ll have a “decent chance” to pull it off without incident.
I honestly just paused after re-reading that last paragraph and thought “I can’t believe I’m living in a time where I’m able to write that sentence, and not in a fictional context.” That is all.