Elon Musk: Mars test flights in 2019

Courtesy of Matt Lief Anderson  HBO

When asked on a timeline on when this will all be possible, he said his time frames are usually perceived as "optimistic", but SpaceX is now building the first interplanetary ship and he expects "short up-and-down flights" as early as next year.

When someone asked Musk how regular folk can help his mission of getting to Mars, he said right now is all about general support and encouragement.

"I think it's unlikely that we'll never have a world war again", he said.

While his projects such as Tesla's Model 3 "affordable" new auto have been dogged by delays, he's become the driving force behind a new space race.

After a string of failed rockets - and near bankruptcy - SpaceX wowed the world with its latest flight, Falcon Heavy, in February. Less than 120 minutes later, SpaceX/Tesla CEO Elon Musk tweeted that the demo satellites - each measuring about the size of a mini-refrigerator and carrying computer, power, command and control, propulsion and Global Positioning System navigation equipment - had successfully deployed and begun communicating with Earth stations.

Musk, 46, who's long dreamed of creating a human colony on Mars, revealed in 2017 that he was building the new rocket ship with the code name "BFR" that would be capable of traveling anywhere on Earth in under an hour.

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"I think most likely the form of government on Mars would be a direct democracy, where people vote directly on issues", he said.

Wrapped around all four corners of the Austin Convention Center, a line of people waited anxiously for a golden ticket-their chance to get a glimpse of Elon Musk, the "modern-day Ironman".

"SpaceX is alive by the skin of its teeth, and so is Tesla - if things had just gone a little differently, both companies would be dead", he said. From there, he said he hopes for an explosion of entrepreneurial opportunity from iron foundries to pizza joints and even great bars, which he joked would be called the "Mars Bar". In the long-term, the billionaire space entrepreneur whose plans include making human life multi-planetary, intends to make Starlink a communication bridge between Earth and colonized Mars.

"AI is far more risky than nukes", he said, dismissing the pushback from AI experts who suggested Mr Musk was more interested in controversy than studying the work.

"Nobody would suggest that we allow anyone to just build nuclear warheads if they want, that would be insane". And if he doesn't try and get us to Mars, who will?

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