Q&A: Elon Musk Talks Mars, World War, Tesla's Near Death And Why He Loves Kanye

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Image Credit: Lucy Nicholson/Reuters/Fortune.com

At this week's South By South West (SXSW) festival in Austin, Elon Musk discussed various topics during a wide-ranging audience Q&A. He promised test flights of his Mars spaceship next year, confessed that Tesla and SpaceX only survived 'by the skin of their teeth', and revealed that his primary inspiration in life is Kanye West.

TEST FLIGHTS OF SPACEX'S MARS SPACESHIPS (AND THE NEXT WORLD WAR, OF COURSE)

'I think we’ll be able to do short flights, up and down flights, some time in the first half of next year.' That's what he said when asked about the timeline for his Mars missions.

sometimes my timelines are a little... y'know

He discussed how vital it is that humans get to Mars as soon as possible, citing a 'probable' World War III.

However, he also admitted that this is far from set in stone: 'Sometimes my timelines are a little... y’know.'

SPACEX AND TESLA ONLY SURVIVED 'BY THE SKIN OF THEIR TEETH'

Musk also said that, back in 2008, Tesla and SpaceX hit a (very) rough patch and only survived 'by the skin of their teeth'.

He told the audience that both companies were 'very nearly bankrupt' just 10 years ago, and that he 'gave both SpaceX and Tesla a probability of less than 10% likely to succeed'.

He even said that he refused to allow his friends to invest in the companies because he was almost certain he'd lose their money.

if things had gone just a little differently, both companies would be dead

The massive profits he made when eBay bought PayPal from him in 2002 were what allowed him to keep them going. It seems that if it wasn't for people clearing out their garages and selling junk on eBay, there would be no Tesla or SpaceX.

The profits were quickly running out, however, as the costs of keeping Tesla and SpaceX alive grew and grew. 'I could put it all into one company, and the other company would definitely die, or if I split it into both SpaceX and Tesla, then they both might die,' he said.

'And when you put your energy into building something, it's your baby, so I couldn't choose. I put the money into both, and thank goodness they both came through... 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'S INSPIRED BY KANYE WEST AND FRED ASTAIRE - AND HE CAN DANCE, APPARENTLY

you should see my dance moves

One audience member posed this poignant question: 'Everyone in this room is inspired by you, who are you inspired by?'

'Well, Kanye West obviously,' came the reply. 'I do love Fred Astaire, he's amazing. If you haven't watched his movies, they're amazing,' he added.

As if that wasn't enough, he then went on to proclaim: 'You should see my dance moves!' Now there's a mental picture.

Image Credit: Startup Division/Google LLC

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