Gwynne Shotwell SpaceX | Closing Plenary | SkollWF 2018

Good morning! I'm so pleased to be here. And I'm so pleased to be able to share with you some of the experiences and the activities that we're doing at SpaceX. I do believe that what we're doing at SpaceX will bring proximity to the globe. 

It's a God-awful small affair,

To the girl with the mousy hair,

But her mummy is yelling no,

And her daddy has told her to go,

But her friend is nowhere to be seen,

Now she walks through her sunken dream,

To the seat with the clearest view,

And she's hooked to the silver screen,

But the film is a saddening bore,

For she's lived ten times or more,

She could spit in the eyes of fools,

As they ask her to focus on,

Sailors fighting in the dance hall,

Oh man look at those cavemen go,

It's the freakiest show,

Take a look at the lawman,

Beating up the wrong guy,

Oh man wonder if he'll ever know,

He's in the best selling show,

Is there life on Mars.

I still get chills when I see our videos. They are fantastic. And one of the reasons why we make these videos, is to bring back peoples' looking towards the stars, and being excited about space and space exploration again. For those of you that don't know about SpaceX, we are a small company, solely devoted to the concept of building space transportation systems that will ultimately take people to other planets. We've got our initial sights on Mars, but there's plenty of places to visit after that. We're focused on rapid innovation, and we actually have almost 7,000 people right now. Over $10 billion worth of revenue on the books. And we've successfully flown the falcon Nine, and the Falcon Heavy launch vehicle 52 timer. We've taken the Dragon spaceship to the international Space Station, successfully 14 times. And we're doing this, not necessary to make money. In fact we Joke that the easiest way to create a small fortune in the aerospace industry is to start with a large one. But what we are focused on doing,  is lifting peoples' eyes to the skies, thinking about space exploration again. And harnessing public imagination. The driving principles, and there are relevant for any entrepreneur, set audacious goals, and I'm so glad that this week, the Audacious project was announced as well. It's one of the founding words that we use at SpaceX, is audacious. Think big. Even if you fall short, you probably have done something extraordinary. We have a relentless focus on driving innovation, and improving every cycle. You achieve that by proximity, and by feedback. Instantaneous feedback. We have a building block approach to what we're doing. We sarted with a small launch vehicle, Little Falcon One. Flew it a couple of times. Went to a bigger vehicle, Falcon Nine. Glued three of these Falcon Nine together, to form the Falcon Heavy, which you saw in the video, first thing. And then our next project on the launch vehicle side will be the Big Falcon Rocket, and the Big Falcon Spaceship. And that would be the vehicle that ultimately transports people beyond Earth. 

Our people are our greatest resources, for sure. We walk that talk. It's not just a saying we make. We could never do what we did, without the workforce that we have. They are extraordinary people, and they work hard every day. Very similar to you all here in the audience. Wanted to chat, just give you a tiny bit of background on the company. I think it's relevant for entrepreneurialism. We started in 2002, and we ended 2002 with about 14 employees. Actually, exactly 14 employees. I was the 11th employee at SpaceX, actually, in 2002. This is my 16th year at this extraordinary company. And since 2002, what have we achieved? We've launched 52 times. We will, this year, if we maintain our manifest, we will have launched as many vehicles as our competitors, who have been in the business for many dozens of years longer than us. So we've launched 52 timer. We've landed many times as well, and that's the key piece of technology that's necessary in order to look to the stars, and take people to other planets. And I'll talk a little bit more about that. Rapid operational reuse. Imagine if rockets were more like... Or imagine if airplanes were like rockets today. Right now rockets are used once. You spend millions of dollars building this capability, and after its mission, you toss it, or it tosses itself into the ocean. I think that's a bad steward element of the environment. So not only do we wanna reuse this capability, so that you can be more like an aircraft, think about going from London to Los Angeles. If that aircraft was only used once, not many of us would fly. And proximity would have a very different perspective. We'd have a very different perspective on proximity. So we must be able to make rockets reusable, and that's fundamentally what we're doing at SpaceX. And achieving, most recently. I'm gonna show you a video of how you do achieve great things. You start with failure. 

HOW NOT TO LAND AN ORBITAL ROCKET ROOSTER

SEPTEMBER 2013 HARD IMPACT ON OCEAN

APRIL 2014 FIRST SOFT WATER LANDING

JULY 2014 SECOND SOFT WATER LANDING

JULY 2014 BREAKS APART AFTER TIPPING

AUGUST 2014 ENGINE SENSOR FAILED          ROCKET IS FINE? IT'S JUST A ACRATCH

SEPTEMBER 2014 RAN OUT OF LIQUID OXYGEN

JANUARY 2015 RAN OUT OF HYDRAULIC FLUID

WELL, TECHNICALLY, IT DID LAND...

WELL, TECHNICALLY, IT DID LAND... JUST NOT IN ONE PIECE

APRIL 2015 STICKY THROTTLE VALVE

LOOK, THAT'S NOT AN "EXPLOSION"

IT'S JUST A RAPID UNSCHEDULED DISASSEMBLY

JANUARY 2016 LANDING LEG COLLAPSED

ENTROPY... IS SUCH A LONELY WORD

MARCH 2016 LANDING BURN FAILED

THE COURSE OF TRUE LOVE NEVER DID RUN SMOOTH

MAY 2016 RADAR GLITCH

MAY 2016 LANDING LEGS DAMAGED

JUNE 2016 RAN OUT OF PROPELLANT

DECEMBER 2015 FIRST SUCCESSFUL LAND LANDING

APRIL 2016 FIRST SUCCESSFUL DRONESHIP LANDING

YOU ARE MY EVERYTHING

So I wanna give you a slightly different perspective of landing a rocket. Instead of being third person, I want you to be first person. So imagine yourself on the top of this booster, and you're coming home. This is slightly sped up, but not that much sped up. So hopefully you will all experience that. And I'm gonna do another beauty shot, of the brother and sister boosters, landing side by side after that extraordinary Falcon Heavy launch in February. 

SPACE TRANSPORT FOR EARTHLINGS

So we focused on the rocket piece, and I do want to talk a little bit about the crew cabin piece. We are working with NASA. We were one of the two companies that were blessed to have been given the very difficult, but critical job, of taking people back to space. So we are working diligently on upgrading the Dragon cargo ship, which currently takes supplies and food to the International Space Station. We're upgrading that to be able to carry astronauts again. Which is an extraordinary program. We're making great progress. We should have a vehicle capable of taking people to the ISS later this year. And we will demonstrate that in an autonomous mode this year as well. Very exciting program. So we've got Falcon Nine, we've got Falcon Heavy, we have Dragon. Now we're gonna move on to the next vehicle, and that vehicle is incredibly exciting. That would be the ship that takes people to Mars. But there's also some other things that vehicle can do, that will help more people on this planet gain proximity. 

NEW YORK CITY, 6:30 AM

NOW BOARDING 

DEPARTURE

NEW YORK CITY TO SHANGHAI

DEPARTS AT 7:00AM

STATUS

ON TIME

SPACEX

MAX SPEED: 27,000 km/h

SHANGHAI, 7:39 PM

FLIGHT TIME: 39 MINUTES

Hong Kong to Singapore 22 min

Los Angeles to Toronto 24 min

Bangkok to Dubai 27 min

Tokyo to Singapore 28 min

London to Dubai 29 min

London to New York 29 min

New York to Paris 30 min

Tokyo to Delhi 30 min

Sydney to Singapore 31 min

Most long distance trips less than 30 minutes

Anywhere on Earth in under an hour

I am particularly excited about that capability, rather than going to Mars. I can visit my customers overseas in Dubai, in Riyadh, in London, and get home in time to make dinner. Which I also love doing, by the way. So you take that spaceship, you leverage it to really change the possibilities, and the transportation here on Earth, and then you can also leverage that ship to take people to Mars, to explore, to go beyond where we've gone before. And this is just a quick kind summary of kind of a thought piece on what a settlement on... Early settlement on Mars could look like. So, hopefully you've learned a little bit about SpaceX, about what we're trying to do, and the possibilities that are enabled with thinking about space transportation in a completely different way, as well as leveraging that to bring people closer together here on earth. Thanks very much for your time this morning. 

So, I have a real beginner's question. I'm sure you get asked this all the time. But, I read that men are from Mars, and women are from Venus. So I'm just wondering, is the plan to send the men home to Mars, and we're gonna go to Venus? Because I think it's a lot closer, right, Venus? So is that the plan? Venus is a little closer, but it's toxic. Just, good to clear that up. I have a more serious question for you. Star wars or Star Trek? Firefly. And I have to ask you about climate change. It's been a big theme for our forum this year. And obviously, Elon's been very outspoken in naming climate change as a great threat of this century. And of course he took a stance in withdrawing from Trump's advisory committee, once the Paris agreement was kind of questioned. So thank you for your organization's leadership on that, and I just was kind of curious if you have other projects, or things in mind, other than the sustainability of rockets, which you kind of spoke to, which kind of guides what you're doing, I'm thinking about climate change. 

Well, there's no question, Elon doesn't have companies that aren't focused on making our planet better. And part of that has to be focused on what you're doing to the environment. 

For that little fella. 

Exactly. And our children. There's a number of things that we're doing. We're moving away from the carbon-based fuel that we're using right now on Falcon Nine and Falcon Heavy, to a LOX methane system. We're also ensuring that we have enough capability of our vehicles, so that not only do we not want to pollute the planet by trashing the vehicles and dumping them in the ocean, but that we're bringing them back and reusing them. And then when they're done, they become monuments, actually. There'll be monuments galore all over the planet of the rocketships. So, cleaner propellants, and ensuring that we're not just dumping all that metal. 

Thank you. And I also have to commend you on the leadership that your organization also took over the recent revelations around data and privacy. SpaceX deleted its Facebook page, am I right? Was that a difficult decision? Because, I just have to commend you for kind of stepping forward and making a statement on the importance of protecting, you know, democracy and elections. 

There are a lot of difficult decisions. I don't think that was one particularly difficult decision to do. 

Gwynne, thank you so much. Thanks you for joining us. 

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