If you were hanging around Hot Air last night you may have read my preview of the next big SpaceX announcement at an event CEO Elon Musk was holding in California. I was particularly excited about this event, as Musk was not only going to be previewing the most recent design for the “BFS” (Big Falcon Spaceship, which blasts off on top of the “Big Falcon Rocket” or BFR), but he was scheduled to introduce their first paying customer for a flight to circle the moon on the new rocket. The event was a bit late in starting, but they did go on air and deliver as promised. But much of the attention during this event, at least among the people I was watching it with, wound up being focused on the rather… unusual behavior of Elon Musk.
We’ll get to that in a moment, but first, we should get to the actual news. The rocket is supposed be starting test flights in the next 18 months or so, and the lucky (?) guy who is scheduled to take a group of his friends on a literal flight over the moon is Japanese billionaire Yusaku Maezawa. (NBC News)
In a live event held at SpaceX headquarters in California, Elon Musk said Monday that Yusaku Maezawa, the billionaire founder and CEO of Japanese fashion retailer Zozo, would be the first private passenger to fly around the moon on a mission the company has planned for 2023.
Maezawa said after being introduced by the SpaceX CEO that he planned to invite six to eight artists to join him on the mission.
The voyage will take place using the company’s bullet-shaped Big Falcon Spaceship, or BFS. The ship will launch from Kennedy Space Center, in Florida, atop a huge white booster named the Big Falcon Rocket, or BFR. Both vehicles are still under development.
Maezawa has put his money where his mouth is, paying an undisclosed sum up front for the privilege of taking the first trip. He’s clearly committed (or perhaps needs to be… *rimshot*), because it takes some intestinal fortitude to volunteer for something like this which relies on very new technology. Best of luck to all of them.
The odd part of the presentation, however, was Musk himself, as I mentioned above. Allow me to preface this by saying you’re not reading yet another complaint from one of Elon Musk’s many detractors and haters, of which there are many. I’m not just enthusiastic about Musk’s technology and the promise it holds for humanity. I’m an unabashed superfan. I honestly believe it’s only people like Musk who will hopefully someday get us off this rock and out to the stars before Earth is no longer habitable. I don’t just have the hat… I ordered one of his (not a) flamethrowers. I came to the pages of this site and wrote, I believe in Elon Musk. You should too.
But with all that said, he’s starting to frighten me a bit and last night’s presentation was just strange. I’ve embedded the video here, set to start at the beginning of his remarks. All through at least the first half of the presentation, Musk seemed to be confused. His speech was halting. He stopped and started sentences, almost at random, sometimes rushing through words and then slowing down. I wouldn’t fault a businessman for a sketchy speech if he’s not used to public speaking or has issues facing crowds. But that’s not the case with Elon Musk. He’s been delivering addresses to the world for a long time and he’s very good at it. He’s practically a showman. That’s what made this so remarkable.
It’s a long video, but you can just watch and listen to the first few minutes and I think you’ll see what I mean.
One more startling moment came after he introduced Maezawa. I can’t be positive and am fully prepared to apologize if I’m wrong, but at the 1:05 mark it looks for all the world like he starts to get a nosebleed, though the quality of the video was rather low and it’s impossible to say for sure.(Feel free to skip ahead on the video and decide for yourself.)
At least one person here came to the conclusion that Elon Musk was acting as if he was on some sort of medication or substance that was affecting his performance. I have no idea, but this isn’t the first time the visionary has acted oddly. I recently looked at the question of whether or not Elon Musk is cracking up. I don’t think we need to blame it on anything nefarious. The guy works up to 120 hours a week. He never sees his family and just doesn’t seem to take a break except to do media appearances.
In any event, something seems wrong. I’ve watched and listened to him more times than I can count and he just didn’t seem right last night. Mr. Musk, if you need some rest, take a vacation. We need you to finish these long projects. The world needs you. Heck… I need you, simply because these days we all need something to believe in. You should be taking humanity to the stars, sir, but you’re not going to do it if you burn out.