Why did he decide to take on such a big mission? Musk explained to the audience at South by Southwest:
" The way i got into space was, I was really disappointed we hadn't sent anyone to Mars. We hadn't expanded beyond Apollo. I kept waiting, year after year. A friend asked me what I wanted to do after PayPal. I said I was always curious about space."
"I went to NASA's website to see when we were going to Mars, but I couldn't find that out. So then I thought perhaps this is a matter of will. Is there a sufficient will to [go to Mars]? The first idea I had was to send a small greenhouse to Mars — the first life on another planet, the furthest life has ever traveled. That would get people excited. The whole purpose of that was to get people excited about sending people to Mars and increase NASA's budget."
Instead, Musk created SpaceX, building and sending off his own rockets. "We wouldn't be where we are today without the help of NASA," he says.
More From Business Insider