Elon Musk says it’d be ironic if he died on Mars — but thinks ‘the most ironic outcome is the most probable’

Elon Musk and SpaceX’s Big Falcon Rocket is designed to carry up to 100 people and deliver 150 tons of cargo to Mars. SpaceX; NASA; Mark Brake/Getty Images; Samantha Lee/Business Insider
  • Elon Musk is trying to colonize Mars with his rocket company, SpaceX.
  • The tech mogul has said a mission to the red planet could be deadly but has hinted he may go at some point.
  • Musk appeared on a Recode Decode podcast episode with journalist Kara Swisher on Friday, and they discussed how he once joked he’d die on Mars.
  • Musk said that would be ironic, but added that he thinks “the most ironic outcome is the most probable.”

Elon Musk and his rocket company, SpaceX, want to send people to the surface of Mars and eventually colonize the red planet.

Today that goal seems much closer to reality than when Musk founded SpaceX in 2002. The company is making progress toward building a fully reusable launch system to get there, called Big Falcon Rocket, and even workshopping mission plans with NASA and other experts.

The trip won’t be easy – something Musk has openly and frequently acknowledged.

“The first journey to Mars is going to be really very dangerous. The risk of fatality will be high. There’s just no way around it,” Musk said in 2016. “It would be basically: Are you prepared to die? And if that’s OK, then you’re a candidate for going.”

Read more:
This speculative SpaceX timeline reveals roughly when, where, and how Elon Musk plans to colonize Mars

Still, Musk has left open the possibility that he himself might one day go on a Mars mission, though not the first one.

So when he appeared on a Recode podcast episode with journalist Kara Swisher on Friday, she brought up the topic (and reaffirmed his flight to Mars is still possible; “I don’t know if I will go or not,” he told Swisher).

“Last time we talked, you said you wanted to die on Mars, just not on landing. Which was a very funny joke, although it’s probably not a joke,” Swisher said.

“It’d be ironic if that had happened,” Musk responded.

Big falcon rocket bfr spaceship bfs mars landing illustration spacex
An illustration of the spaceship of SpaceX’s Big Falcon Rocket, or BFR, landing on Mars. SpaceX

In explaining his thinking, Musk quoted a friend who reportedly said, “the most ironic outcome is the most likely.”

“I think that there’s some truth to that,” Musk added. “And then also I think sometimes the most entertaining outcome is the most likely.”

Swisher joked that it might be entertaining if he died banging his head on the red planet.

“I mean, hopefully me dying on impact on Mars is not the most entertaining outcome. … It’s ironic,” Musk responded. “Because then what happens next? It’s like, OK, you’re a crater.”

He and Swisher also discussed more serious aspects of SpaceX, including progress on its Falcon 9 rockets, the Commercial Crew Program to launch NASA astronauts into space, and pushing the envelope of reusable launch systems.

“This year’s been great for SpaceX,” Musk said. “We successfully launched the Falcon Heavy rocket, which is the most powerful rocket in the world by a factor of two. And we actually launched a Tesla – my Tesla Roadster – to Mars orbit.”

Read Recode’s full interview here.

More from Elon Musk’s Recode appearance: