u/dansemacabred2, u/jclishman, u/Zucal, and u/zsla

Image credit: SpaceX (Public Domain)


On May 2, 2017, Tom Mueller, propulsion CTO at SpaceX, conducted a speech/interview with some members of the New York University Astronomy Society.


Full transcript taken from this reddit thread, authored by u/dansemacabred2 , u/jclishman, u/Zucal, and u/zsla

Watch source video from axd208 on www.twitch.tv

I (AngusP) am not the original author of this transcript and do not claim copyright on this content.
Republished with permission


Part 1 source Reddit Comment


We have a little, like, amateur setup… Um, so I’ll just give, like, a quick introduction basically; I’d like to introduce Mr. Tom Mueller, who is the cofounder and Chief Tech Officer at SpaceX; he’s the champion of the Occupy Mars movement, which I am proudly representing on my shirt; and the brains behind SpaceX’s rocket designs, as one of the world’s foremost rocket engine designers, he’s responsible for developing propulsions systems and engines for both the Falcon launch vehicles and the Dragon spacecraft, and much more, obviously.

Before we start I just want to say thank you from all of us for taking time out of your busy schedule to talk with us. We’re all very amazed at the work you do at SpaceX, and congratulations on all the success you’ve been having with the recent launches.


Thank you!


If you want to— do you have anything—


Did everybody see that launch yesterday?


Yes, yes.

The launch?

The launch, yesterday morning. [NROL-76]


Okay, so shall I go ahead?


Yes. If you have, like, a talk prepared, we have some questions.


Okay, so I’m going to talk about low-cost access to space. When I was a kid, you know, in the 60s, I used to watch Star Trek; I was 8 years old when they landed on the moon. Of course, a lot of us thought 50 years from now, we’d be on Mars, maybe travelling to other planets, you know, a more Star Trek-like experience. It didn’t really happen though, did it?




Angus Pearson

Image credit: SpaceX


Hesitations have been edited out for readability’s sake, unless they are contextually useful. Words that I was unable to hear are marked within square brackets: […]. Any words I’m unsure about are also in [square brackets]. My comments are in {Curly braces}. Emphasis is mine.

This is the transcript taken from the below recording, with times added above each speaker.

{The first question Musk answers is not included in the recording.}



Any [enterprise you can imagine] on Mars, things that are, we [take for granted] on Earth as well as things that [won’t exist anywhere] but Mars, so we’re [like the Union Pacific1] so, our goal is to get people there, we’ll need to construct the initial propellant plant to produce [much] propellant on Mars, and so the initial, [obviously] the Mars spaceport and the sort of the beginnings of [a key] central element [of] a Mars base and then thereafter, um, and we definitely wanna make sure we [don’t infringe] upon the opportunities that people may have to create things on Mars, and if [people thought that] SpaceX is just gonna do that then they [they’ll] be less willing to do it so [we’re really] trying to create a conduit to Mars to enable people to do an incredible [number of] things there.. [And just like how the Union Pacific, sort of, made California really,] um, we’d like to have it be that way for Mars. I think there is, um, like I say I’m not too worried about safety on the way there from radiation, I think that’s basically is {Gets cut off by question}


Useful Libraries & APIs

Angus Pearson

A collection of hopefully useful stuff

This will be periodically updated, last updated 2016-10-19

Machine Learning & AI

Neural Network and ML library for Rust, benchmarks as one of the fastest http://autumnai.com/
ML & Neural Network framework for Python https://www.tensorflow.org/
ML framework for Lua http://torch.ch
Image recognition as a service https://www.clarifai.com/ has a limited free plan and paid tiers.
Natural Language Toolkit for Python, got a load of useful stuff in it http://www.nltk.org/
Parsey McParseface / SyntaxNet
Google AI tensorflow-based natural language processing and semantic understanding framework/module https://research.googleblog.com/2016/05/announcing-syntaxnet-worlds-most.html


(Two Factor) Authentication, Text and Voice telephony APIs, requires credit though they’re hackathon friendly and often sponsoring hacks https://www.twilio.com/
Email-as-a-service, much easier than messing around with a mail server. https://sendgrid.com/
Push-notification service, as an app it does more than just being a channel for sending notifications but they have a good free API https://docs.pushbullet.com/
Pretty formidable chat-bot framework written in CoffeeScript (ewww…) that’s well known on Slack and IRC https://hubot.github.com/

Media & Streaming

Python library for interfacing with Google Cast devices, https://github.com/balloob/pychromecast
A very popular even if clunky computer vision system. Good for hard stuff like facial and fiducial recognition. http://opencv.org/
Very good for typesetting, scripting PDF generation or manipulating documents https://www.latex-project.org/

Web Development

Simple and effective Python backend web framework http://flask.pocoo.org
Also a Python framework, more involved but sometimes easier to develop on-top-of than Flask https://www.djangoproject.com/
Ruby on Rails
Similar to Django but written in Ruby and arguably the nicer of the two. Has a similar batteries-included approach http://rubyonrails.org/
Easily the most popular frontend web framework, contains good HTML/CSS/JS primatives and components http://getbootstrap.com/
Similar to Bootstrap, less well known and much easier to use than Google’s Polymer framework for Material Design (Andrioid style) http://materializecss.com/
Very involved & abstracted framework for building webapps in Material Design https://www.polymer-project.org/
Python Library for parsing XML and HTML, faster than Beautiful Soup http://lxml.de/
Very capable Python web client API http://docs.python-requests.org/en/master/

Data Storage

Really, really fast & scalable in-memory ‘schema-less’ datastore, feat. Hashmaps, Lists, Sets, Pub/Sub, Ordered sets and some niche but super handy Geospatial queries http://redis.io/
Probably the smallest SQL (Structured Query Language, for relational databases), easy to use, set up and hack with https://sqlite.org/
One of the more popular full-size SQL database engines https://www.postgresql.org/

Hosting & Deployment

Amazon Web Services, complicated but very capable, free credit sometimes available for Hackathons https://aws.amazon.com/
Tunneling service, really handy for exposing a server (usually a development server) that’s behind a firewall to the public internet. https://ngrok.com/
Much simpler than AWS, very easy to get started with and has a Free tier https://www.heroku.com/
Server-based hosting, rather than containers like AWS and Heroku https://www.digitalocean.com/
GitHub Pages
Easy & free Static Site hosting with Jekyll https://pages.github.com/


Very well known and well supported hardware development ecosystem http://arduino.cc
Huge ecosystem and standardised method of doing stuff for serious Robotics http://www.ros.org/
ARM Mbed
More powerful than Arduinos, have RTOS features and a more complex/complete API https://www.mbed.com/
Raspberry Pi
Mini Linux computers with GPIO https://www.raspberrypi.org/


GitHub Student Develper Pack
Loads of useful stuff and freebies https://education.github.com/pack