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Elon Musk in 2016. Credit: Refugio Ruiz / AP

SpaceX chief executive Elon Musk set some expectations for the first launch of the Falcon Heavy rocket, and talked about opportunities in space for business and research at the ISS R&D conference today in Washington.

Asked whether he planned to go to space himself, he said he probably would — eventually. "I would like to at some point. Assuming things work out, maybe in 3 or 4 years."

  • Falcon Heavy rocket's first launch: "There is a real good chance that it doesn't make it to orbit. I want to manage expectations. I just hope it makes it far enough away from the launch pad that it does not cause pad damage. I would consider even that a win to be honest." Falcon Heavy simultaneously ignites 27 orbit class engines, which adds up to a lot of risk that can't be tested on the ground, he said.
  • Despite the challenges of developing the Falcon Heavy, Musk said they are focused on launching the Dragon 2 spacecraft to eventually carry crew to the International Space Station. He also said they are abandoning original plans to use propulsion to land the Dragon 2 because of safety concerns for the crew, suggesting the capsule won't be used to land on Mars as originally planned.
  • His team is working to reuse more of the rockets — faster. "We believe we can get to the point probably next year where the Falcon 9 booster can be re-flown within 24 hours. The key to that is all you do is inspections, no hardware is changed, not even the paint. That's our aspiration for next year.
  • About those tunnels... Musk says his project digging tunnels beneath L.A. is "a low stress activity because everyone expects it to fail" But it could inform efforts to mine Mars for ice and minerals.
  • How to excite people about space: "Having some permanent presence on another heavenly body — that's the continuance of the dream of Apollo."

Why it matters: SpaceX has delivered cargo and research experiments to the Space Station for NASA and a host of companies on the Falcon 9 rocket. The Falcon Heavy is the company's next version, which aims to have the largest cargo capacity of any rocket today. Beyond those services, Musk has essentially stepped in as a private sector generator of moonshots — last year he announced his plan to colonize Mars. (He said today he'd likely offer an update on that at the International Astronautical Congress in September).

Go deeper

Ina Fried, author of Login
4 hours ago - Technology

Intel CEO sees making own chips as a matter of national security

Pat Gelsinger. Photo: Axios on HBO

Intel CEO Pat Gelsinger is putting the pressure on the U.S. government to help subsidize chip manufacturing, insisting the current reliance on plants in Taiwan and Korea as "geopolitically unstable."

Why it matters: There is bipartisan support for funding the domestic semiconductor industry, but Congress has yet to sign the check. The Senate has passed the CHIPS Act that includes $52 billion in semiconductor investment, but it has yet to pass the House.

Updated 4 hours ago - World

17 U.S. and Canadian missionaries kidnapped in Haiti

Haitian soldiers guard the public prosecutor's office in Port-au-Prince this month. Photo: Richard Pierrin/AFP via Getty Images

Children are among a group of 17 missionaries kidnapped in Port-au-Prince, Haiti, per a statement from Christian Aid Ministries Sunday.

The latest: "The group of 16 U.S citizens and one Canadian citizen includes five men, seven women, and five children," the Ohio-based group said. Haitian police inspector Frantz Champagne on Sunday identified the 400 Mawozo gang as the group responsible, in a statement to AP.

Ina Fried, author of Login
5 hours ago - Technology

Intel CEO wants to compete against Apple

Intel CEO Pat Gelsinger hasn't given up on the idea of the Mac once again using Intel chips, but he acknowledges it will probably be years before he gets that chance.

  • In the meantime, he is focused on powering Windows machines that give Apple CEO Tim Cook a run for his money.

Why it matters: In getting pushed out of the Mac, Intel not only lost a customer but picked up a new rival.