Space: Where science and communication meet

Elon Musk has changed how we view space travel. Using the successful communication strategies established in the automotive industry, namely through the Tesla brand, Elon Musk has gone on to take over the ISS (International Space Station).

By Giulia Barjona / 28.07.2020

In 2002, Elon Musk breaks into the stellar system of the space sector with the dream of taking mankind to Mars. Musk became famous through the Space X enterprise, and has thereby reached his goal to run public-private space exploration. For example, he was the first person to demonstrate that it is possible to reuse rocket parts. Space missions are extremely expensive, and Musk’s goal is to reduce both their cost and ecological footprint. How could this become a reality? The launching vehicles used now turn into trash floating around the earth. Musk suggests using reusable motors. But how would this work? The answer is surprisingly straightforward: after launching, the motors would be able to return to Earth by themselves. This is a challenge of modernity that highlights the necessity of reform and innovation of the space sector.

Musk also has a clear idea on how to raise the funds needed for those kinds of projects. Most importantly, one needs to find private and public investors. NASA, on the other hand, solely relies on the public sector. Musk’s explanations contain strategies to maintain a high customer loyalty, and create dreams and expectations.

Finally, Musk wants to use American pride in order to generate revenue. He has recruited hundreds of professionals and firmly rooted his business in Texas. In addition to this, he has brought back the launching of rockets from America. Previously, rockets were only launched from Kazakhstan, meaning that the US was dependent on Russia in this instance.

Elon Musk is trying to make space exploration more accessible to the public. However, Xavier Pasco, Director of the Foundation for Strategic Research, does not believe in Musk’s ideas. According to him, Musk’s success will be short-lived and unable to live up to its promises. Pasco’s vision of space travel puts more emphasis on technology and efficiency. Pasco actually proves that Musk’s suggestions are difficult to realise. In short, he believes that space travel to Mars would be impossible, as it remains unclear how astronauts would be protected from radiation.

Another example is Musk’s idea of putting passengers on a non-traditional plane, which makes use of a layer in the atmosphere, to travel between different space locations. Due to passenger security issues, this idea is not viable.

Picture: Milena Parotti

Furthermore, Musk has already launched a project with the goal to send 42,000 satellites to space, in order to establish an internet connection in the most remote corners of the world. This venture is threatening stellar research, as the bright light of the satellites would conceal the stars and render them inexplorable.

Despite all of those issues, Elon Musk’s popularity and his inventiveness allow his name to be on the front cover of programs about the future of space travel time and time again.

Musk’s communication strategies resemble those commonly used on the web. Every new prototype – and every failure – are turned into a huge event for the public. There seems to be a solution to every problem. For Musk, multiple attempts and failure are an opportunity for increased exposure to the public, while also remaining successful. Getting his name out there is a good strategy to draw attention to Space X, and subsequently gain the interest and financial support needed to continue with the experiment.

To the detriment of Xavier Pasco’s ideas, Space X is currently competing for two important responsibilities in the 2024 mission, which also aims to take man to the moon once again. The first task is planning a landing device. The second task is supplying astronauts with tools, food, and other items necessary for life and work in the space station. The station will be orbiting around the moon.

One of Musk’s successes is Bob Behnken and Doug Hurley’s landing on the ISS. They departed from the JFK Space Center in Florida in a shuttle, which has already been used to supply the ‘floating headquarters’.

Finally, Elon Musk’s strategies are marketing strategies, which are usually used to sell products or services. If those types of communication helps expand space travel and research about the origins of life, why get in their way?

In the end, one important question remains: how much time will pass before we can touch red Martian dust without exposing neither Mars’ nor our ecosystems to dangerous microorganisms from our travels?


Giulia Barjona (Italy)
Studies: Pedagogical Sciences
Languages: Italian, English, French
Europe is... an immense source of inspiration and discovery.


Martine Wilmes (Luxembourg)
Studies: MA in English Literature
Languages: Luxembourgish, German, French, English, a bit of Spanish
Europe is... forging cross-cultural relationships.


Fern D (UK)
Languages: English, French, Russian
Study: MA in Applied Translation
"As conservative politics tries to push the UK further and further away from the continent, it's now as important as ever to make individual efforts to bring it closer."

Author: alessandra

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