Someone want to break the news to him?

In a long and horrific article that recounts all the terrible safety violations and tragic deaths and injuries at SpaceX, we get Musk’s perspective on workplace safety.

“Elon’s concept that SpaceX is on this mission to go to Mars as fast as possible and save humanity permeates every part of the company,” said Tom Moline, a former SpaceX senior avionics engineer who was among a group of employees fired after raising workplace complaints. “The company justifies casting aside anything that could stand in the way of accomplishing that goal, including worker safety.”

Someone needs to explain that rushing as fast as possible to get to a place does not translate into safely and reliably arriving at that place. “As fast as possible” exposes his real goal, which is to win a race and feed his ego. He wants bragging rights. Getting a shambling wreck of a space base installed on Mars while its crew dies slowly (or instantly!) is not what people mean by “going to Mars”. It is going to kill any interest in “going to Mars” for any more responsible space nerds in the future, though.

Also, the “saving humanity” schtick is old and overblown. Putting a few people on Mars in a ramshackle station that decays away for lack of utility is not going to save humanity. Did that temporary outpost in Vinland save the Vikings?

Do I need to add that this is not a serious leader? This is a man-child.

Four SpaceX employees told Reuters they were disturbed by Musk’s habit of playing with a flamethrower when he visited the SpaceX site in Hawthorne. The device was marketed to the public in 2018 as a $500 novelty item by Musk’s tunnel-building firm, the Boring Company. Videos posted online show it can shoot a thick flame more than five feet long. Boring later renamed the device the “Not-A-Flamethrower” amid reports of confiscations by authorities.

For years, Musk and his deputies found it “hilarious” to wave the flamethrower around, firing it near other people and giggling “like they were in middle school,” one engineer said. Musk tweeted in 2018 that the flamethrower was “guaranteed to liven up any party!” At SpaceX, Musk played with the device in close-quarters office settings, said the engineer, who at one point feared Musk would set someone’s hair on fire.

I work in a place that takes people’s safety seriously. If our chancellor showed up and giggled while firing off a flamethrower in the atrium, we’d be calling the police and demanding their immediate resignation. But then, we don’t claim our role is to “save humanity” and lack the overwhelming sense of importance that excuses idiot behavior.


  1. raven says

    I was appalled at how tone deaf Musk was with his flamethrowers.

    2017 and 2018 was when the wildfires in California started increasing in severity.
    In 2017 it was 1.54 million acres burned, in 2018 it was 2 million acres burned.

    “The Camp Fire that erupted on Nov. 8, 2018, in the Sierra Nevada foothills killed 85 people, destroyed nearly 19,000 homes, businesses and other …” A sizable town, Paradise, was burned with 85 people killed.

    And, Musk is handing out flamethrowers?
    What could go wrong here?

    I’m not sure what you call it but there is something seriously wrong with Elon Musk.
    As I noted on the previous thread, just about everyone who dealt with him, including his breeding stock, had a bad experience and ended up regretting it.
    His oldest child has already disowned him at age 18.

  2. Rich Woods says

    When I was a teenager a kid decided to bring his air pistol into school one day. He wasn’t a nutter or a thug, but let’s just say he had some control issues. Waving the pistol around while cracking jokes made him feel good. Shooting people in the back (we wore thick blazers so it didn’t do much more than sting) made him feel good, and made the usual suspects laugh. When he shot me I chucked a chair at the fucker, and that brought the show to an end.

    When Musk waved a flamethrower around the room and fired it near people, why didn’t someone just deck him?

  3. rietpluim says

    This man-child decides single-handedly about the access to information in Ukraine and Gaza.
    Men-children are dangerous enough, rich men-children are disastrous.

  4. StevoR says

    Tangential and Musk certainly doesn’t deserve much credit for it but thjinking Musk the SpaceX Starship rocket is going to have its latest launch attempot soon :

    Presumably now they got a pad built that won’t shatter and help destroy in the largest rocket in the world as happened last time. That is something that brings wodner and awe to many -myself -included and tho’Ican’t stand Musk I do love his rockets and teh amazing things Space X has done.

  5. birgerjohansson says

    I recall the Soviet space program and their politics-induced disasters.
    An ICBM test was hurried, the explosion killed a field marshal and half the top space engineers.
    Soyuz 1 had to be launched in time for the 50th anniversary of the revolution, never mind the long list of flaws that needed fixing.
    The first Soviet space station mission ended in disaster (designing more compact space suits was expensive, and having two cosmonauts instead of three would mean having smaller crews than the Americans).

    The two space Shuttle disasters were also results of poor safety awareness.
    Zod knows how many accidents there are at Chinese launch sites.

  6. Matt G says

    What is that quote attributed to Lincoln? If you want to know a man’s character give him power?

  7. Dennis K says

    @5 – They aren’t “Musk’s rockets”. Smart people designed and built those things. This imbecile had nothing to do with any of the work behind it nor the “amazing things SpaceX has done.” He’s a petulant man-child and shilling him only feeds his ego into doing shit like whimsically switching off starlink over Ukraine just because he can.

  8. hemidactylus says

    Most people are merely NPCs in the cosmic simulation to Musk. A flamethrower mishap would be part of the game within which he’s the central agent. There’s no backstory to the NPCs. They just crop up out of the woodwork from time to time. Empty shells.

  9. garnetstar says

    Stockton Rush also wanted to get his private company that took tourists to the Titanic up and running as fast as he could, and justified casting everything else aside to accomplish that goal. He actually said that the isub ndustry “needlessly prioritized passenger safety over commercial innovation” and that “At some point, safety is just pure waste.”

    I don’t even have to ask “And how did that work out for him?”

  10. wzrd1 says

    Dennis K @ 11, whatever are you going on about? Musk can take direct credit for the launchpad that was launched far offsite at his last major launch, fucking up a town, beach and nature reserve (as well as his site fuel storage facility and utilities for the site). It’s quite well documented that he directly refused to upgrade the launch noise/flame suppression system, leading directly to that debacle.
    True visionary leadership! If one has an extremely high fever…

    Still, as near as I can tell, Musk wants to save humanity by shooting everyone in the face with a flamethrower.
    I do question the wisdom of handing a small child a loaded lethal weapon.*

    *Flamethrowers are legal in some jurisdictions, largely for controlled burn usage and for some roofing applications, but they’re much more range limited than the military version and unapproved usage typically results in punitive measures being issued by the courts.

  11. Louis says

    @hemidactylus, #12,

    I think that is absolutely part of the “Musk equation”.

    I can’t remember which comedian it was, but the relevant bit of their act was about an international footballer (soccer) being a bit of an arrogant arsehole. The comedian’s comment was along the lines of: “What do you expect? He’s been told since birth that he’s magic just because he’s clever with his feet. Of course, he doesn’t have a sense of proportion.”.

    I think it’s the same with Musk and Musk-like people (not necessarily as successful or in similar positions of wealth etc). Musk has more money than Croesus, and more influence/power than most countries can aspire to. Who’s going to tell him he’s an arsehole? Noisy internet folks? Like you said, if “real” people are NPCs, us internet folk aren’t even the NPCs’ NPCs! Any person who tells him in real life can be fired, destroyed, divorced, or ignored. A sense of proportion and decency?

    Unless someone finds him in a dark alley and applies the cluestick with some venom, there isn’t even the remotest hope (and even this probably won’t have a chance of working).

    One of the biggest red flags that we’ve got the current incarnation of capitalism very wrong indeed is, among many many other red flags, we’ve managed to not merely enable Musk et al., but lionise them and isolate them from criticism and consequences.

    Who can tell someone like that that they are but a man?


  12. says

    @Louis: Well put. The problem isn’t the occasional billionaire loosing it, it’s the billionaires existing. That amount of power isn’t healthy for anybody. Problem is they are so well entrenched that we’ll probably have to do it the french way.

  13. Louis says

    @Erlend Meyer, #16,

    I am most assuredly here for the methodology employed by our Gallic chums in centuries past. It has a certain swish…


  14. wzrd1 says

    Louis @ 15, funny, as I walk with a cluestick. Now, to only get him into that alley. And I’m old enough that life in prison or lethal injection aren’t much of a deterrent.

    Erlend Meyer @ 16, well national razors are inexpensive to make and maintain.

    Or lock him, well secured, inside of one of his Tesla cars set on autopilot near a high accident area…

  15. says

    Know what? I’m all in on one condition. He’s the first off the planet. If that’s the deal I’ll buy a Tesla and stroke his ego as much as he likes.

  16. gijoel says

    Musk hates Wikipedia and offered them a billion dollars to change their name to Dickapedia. He’s a thin skinned man-child that he can’t even handle Wikipedia not including him as one of the founders of Tesla and SpaceX.

  17. Louis says

    @chigau, #21,

    1) Top drawer Vox Day reference. I wonder how Theodore is. Not enough to look, heaven forefend, but just enough wondering to hope he frequently steps on rakes* and shits angry hedgehogs. As befits a person of his nature.

    2) Flaming sword? {cough…[sotto voce] penis substitute, necessary or not. Deep insecurity…cough}

    I said nothing.


    *He does not deserve Lego to step on. Lego is highly prized human greatness. It should be a privilege and a compliment to be able to have one’s feet injured by a piece of Lego.

  18. StevoR says

    @11. Dennis K

    @5 – They aren’t “Musk’s rockets”. Smart people designed and built those things. This imbecile had nothing to do with any of the work behind it nor the “amazing things SpaceX has done.”

    I know hence my intro there noting ” Musk certainly doesn’t deserve much credit for it..”

  19. Louis says

    @wzard1, #19

    Alley? Hmmm. I “know a guy”…


    P.S. Very sadly, I do know “know a guy”. I need “a guy”. Where does one get “a guy”? Do “guys” all still have middle names like “the”? Mickey “The” Fish, Colin “The” Rather Nasty etc?

  20. says

    Of course all the Musktronuts will be fitted out with his Neuralink to make the disaster complete. Actually the flamethrower was part of the development process for his Mars rocket. He plans to stand underneath the rocket and use the flamethrower to light the blue touchpaper. We can only hope.

  21. numerobis says

    gijoel: I’ve not heard about this Dickapedia thing, but wiki shows Musk as being the founder of SpaceX and being recognized as a co-founder of Tesla from buying in when the company was about 6 months old. So… huh?

    Trying to say that Musk is not relevant to these companies is a bit bonkers. He was an active CEO at both — much as he was an active CEO at Twitter, and remains active at Twitter despite not officially being the CEO. Indeed, there’s criticism of him being too involved in the day to day, micromanaging small decisions.

  22. wzrd1 says

    Louis @ 27, rakes, BS1363 plugs, six of one, half dozen of the other to step upon with bare feet.

    As for his Mars rocket, if it’s source code for guidance programs is in common with his Tesla cars, the rocket will likely home in on the sun by preference, just as the cars home in on parked emergency vehicles that have their lights flashing.

  23. hemidactylus says

    I despise Musk and Shitter (sensu South Park) has become a shitshow within a dumpster fire. Cybertruck seems ridiculous as I would rather have an offroad modified Porsche 911 based on petrol. Who wants to run out of petrol in the wilderness? VWs made decent offroad modders. Porsche takes that to an entirely different level. Plus getting a Porsche dirty offroad would make yuppy purists go apoplectic. A bonus!

    Aside from the superrocket I don’t want launching anywhere near me SpaceX seems pretty solid. I am a bit miffed by all the space debris they are putting up there for connectivity. The orbit decay fearmongering by critics may have been overdone.

    Tesla has its issues and again I prefer the roar of a petrol muscle car, but admit the Plaid is probably one of the top tier bad ass cars on the planet. From what I have seen and heard the g-force these beasts plow you into the seat with is absurd.

  24. hemidactylus says

    Sorry I meant who wants to run out of battery charge in the wilderness? Not many charge stations. One can pour fuel from a container though.

  25. hemidactylus says

    Seems the FAA report was bullshit:
    “The FAA report to Congress did include a caveat that said, “If SpaceX is correct in reporting zero surviving debris, as SpaceX reports in FCC filings, and Starlink is a fully-demisable spacecraft, the rise in reentry risk is minimal over the current risk.”

    SpaceX said that caveat “is a key statement” and that “SpaceX engineers conducted extensive analysis that confirms that the satellites fully demise.” The “FAA bases its conclusions on a claim that the space industry has not met the 90 percent success rate for post-mission disposal, [but] SpaceX’s post-mission disposal success rate is greater than 99 percent. This critical and clearly pertinent fact is somehow omitted from both FAA’s report and the Aerospace Corporation analysis upon which it relies.””

    The Starlink array still seems visual sky pollution for astronomers, but I don’t think I need worry about dodging decaying debris targeting me.

    So not Musk with a flamethrower?

  26. StevoR says

    @ 20.Reginald Selkirk : “Flamethrowers on Mars?”

    Nope, wouldn’t work without oxygen at least not outside the base. As Stephen Baxter noted in one of his SF novels (maybe this one? ) Earth is the only planet in our solar system where fire ie. chemical combustion variety is possible..

  27. John Morales says

    StevoR, too hasty, too facile.

    Nope, wouldn’t work without oxygen at least not outside the base.

    The flamethrower needs oxidiser and fuel; that does not entail that the oxidiser is oxygen or that it’s external to the flamethrower.

    (How do you imagine rockets work out in space?)

  28. robro says

    And in other technology news with a Elon Musk connection: the OpenAI board dismissed CEO Sam Altman and removed Chairman of the Board Greg Brockman, who then resigned. I didn’t know that OpenAI had a connection to Elon but there is a muskrat smell to it.

  29. numerobis says

    robro: Musk was a founding member of the OpenAI board, with Altman and others. He left after a couple years to focus on Tesla, alleging a conflict of interest in that Tesla was also trying to do AI.

  30. Silentbob says

    @ 40 John Morales

    “facile” <snicker>
    Rockets do not create “flame” in space, Juan Ramón. “Flame” is an ionization of the local atmosphere. The exhaust from a rocket could indeed heat an object to which it was applied, but it could not cause combustion without continuously supplying oxidizer. Whatever bizarre device you have in mind, it cannot reasonably be called a “flamethrower”.

  31. John Morales says

    Ah right, the feeble objections resume. Not even facile, those.

    Rockets do not create “flame” in space, Juan Ramón. “Flame” is an ionization of the local atmosphere.

    Leaving aside that Mars actually has an atmosphere, perhaps you should edit Wikipedia then:
    “A flame (from Latin flamma) is the visible, gaseous part of a fire. It is caused by a highly exothermic chemical reaction taking place in a thin zone.[1] When flames are hot enough to have ionized gaseous components of sufficient density they are then considered plasma.”

    The exhaust from a rocket could indeed heat an object to which it was applied, but it could not cause combustion without continuously supplying oxidizer.

    Um, welcome to the weird and wonderful world of redox reactions.
    Again, Wikipedia:
    “Most chemical propellants release energy through redox chemistry, more specifically combustion. As such, both an oxidizing agent and a reducing agent (fuel) must be present in the mixture.”

    (The combustion is the flame, and it can be external to the containers holding the chemicals)

    Whatever bizarre device you have in mind, it cannot reasonably be called a “flamethrower”.

    Because mixing the contents of flasks of oxygen and hydrogen is so very bizarre.


  32. Rich Woods says

    @StevoR #4:

    Because he was their boss and would sack them? Because they’d be charged with assault? Because they have more self-control and sense?

    He probably would sack someone who hit him, but if he was putting them at risk with a deadly weapon they’d have grounds for unfair dismissal. Similarly the risk of being charged with assault: it would be a simple case of self-defence. And how is having the self-control to not stop him common sense? That would just encourage the fucking egomaniac to think he could get away with doing it again.

  33. StevoR says

    @ ^ Rich Woods : Fair points. Still..

    @40. John Morales :

    StevoR, too hasty, too facile.

    “Nope, wouldn’t work without oxygen at least not outside the base.” – SR

    The flamethrower needs oxidiser and fuel; that does not entail that the oxidiser is oxygen or that it’s external to the flamethrower.

    Musks’s specific not-a-flamethrower flamethrower / blow torch tho’?

    In 2018, the company began offering 20,000 “flamethrowers” for preordering.[74] The “flamethrower” was a blow torch shaped to look like a gun and is legal in all U.S. states except Maryland.[75] In just a few days, all 20,000 “flamethrowers” were sold. After customs officials said that they would not allow imports of any items called “flamethrowers”, Musk announced that he would rename them to “Not-A-Flamethrower” since the devices were in fact akin to roofing torches. Musk announced separate sales of a fire extinguisher, which he described as “overpriced… but this one comes with a cool sticker”

    Emphasis added. Source :

    FWIW Its possible to basically build your own given the right ingrediants & know how skills apparently see :

    Make your own BORING FLAMETHROWER! by Hacksmith Industries youtube clip here – just over ten minutes long.

    (How do you imagine rockets work out in space?)

    Very well indeed and no imgaination is needed since evidence is conclusive from the V2 onwards see The Evolution of Space Rockets 12 min 40 sec clip by Tech Vision
    esp the 6 mins 50 secs mark here
    which, yeah, as a huge space exploration fan I have kinda been aware of for a fair while! ;-)

  34. StevoR says

    FWIW Live Starship* launch attempt video here no doubt one among many. So many people working so hard and so intelligently to deliver the world wonder and the largest and most powerful rocket humans have yet built and are hopefully about to see fly.

    .* Okay, not actually going quite as far as the stars and more a Mars ship which is our third nearest planet compared to Mercury closest on average and Venus that gets closest to our planet at its closest to us but still.

    Gather laucnh time is expected 11.30 pm Aussie time & ist now 9.45 pm my time so roughly a pair of hours~ish to go yet. Vague precision huh?

  35. StevoR says

    Whilst, OTOH & very contrastingly the latest example of paceX boss Musk’s thin-skinned madness toxic spoilt privilege :

    X Corp, formerly Twitter, will file a lawsuit against Media Matters and those who attacked social media platform X, Elon Musk has said. …(snip).. Liberal media watchdog group Media Matters for America earlier this week said it found that corporate advertisements by IBM, Apple, Oracle and Comcast’s Xfinity were being placed alongside anti-Semitic content.

    IBM on Thursday said it immediately suspended all advertising on Musk-owned X after the watchdog found its ads were placed next to content promoting Adolf Hitler and the Nazi Party.

    Source :

  36. wzrd1 says

    hemidactylus @ 37, funny thing is, I’ve driven similar courses in a Jeep CJ and Hummer (both military models) around twice the speed that the courses were run at here. Of course, both had one thing both vehicles in the video lack – ground clearance.
    Comparing vehicle class for vehicle class, my old Impreza did about as well, maybe a bit better and had superior ground clearance.
    Although, these days, I’d probably baby the course a fair bit out of concern for my spinal suspension. :/
    I did have to pull a fender off the Impreza once, caught a concrete barrier with it, had to spend a couple of hours with a ball peen hammer and assorted lumber chunks to turn the modern art back into a fender, as I’m just way too cheap to buy a replacement fender. Couldn’t tell it got crumpled once I was done. Did the same with a bent rim, after a hole caught an edge of it, destroying the tire itself. On that one, I remain amazed that I didn’t need some significant wheel balancing afterward.

  37. wzrd1 says

    Oh, not exceptionally concerned with Starlink junk falling, as we’re only talking about birds that are a little over one US ton in mass falling from orbit. If it ain’t made of tungsten, it’ll be shredded and incinerated and US law mandates birds come apart reliably into low risk sized/massed chunks.

    As for a space flamethrower, blather on all sides. Whatever “flame” is emitted in a vacuum disperses rather close to an engine bell and most engines for vacuum duty rely upon hypergolic fuels for reliable ignition (that said, most space engines are basically OMS thrusters) or need a hypergolic ignition system.
    And as was mentioned, that “flamethrower” is far from being a true flamethrower, it is as I mentioned much earlier more of a brush burner/roofing torch, albeit turned into a toy, as the actual tool models use much larger tanks for their fuel. Still, if they’re cheap enough, maybe forestry types might make limited usage of them, but I doubt it.

    StevoR @ 51, I’m reminded of what a lawyer repeatedly told one and all and well, he’s also a law professor. “You can sue a ham sandwich”, doesn’t mean one will win. Not the least of which is, it’s difficult beyond the extreme to prosecute a defamation case when the defamation in question is well documented truth.

  38. Nemo says

    It is going to kill any interest in “going to Mars” for any more responsible space nerds in the future, though.

    I think you’re greatly underestimating the allure of that dream (having, I realize, apparently given up on it yourself). A hundred Musks couldn’t kill it.

    Otherwise… yeah.