How will Elon Musk and SpaceX fund its ambitious plan to go to Mars? The question was a big one coming into today's announcement, and Musk opted to suggest some kind of "public-private partnership" would generate the necessary cash. But first, he made a South Park joke.
When talk turned to funding, Musk moved along to a slide that started with "Steal Underpants" and ended with "Profit." (In between: "Kickstarter.") The slide was a reference to a season two episode of South Park, where the boys uncover a bizarre conspiracy involving gnomes stealing underpants. When confronted about the reasoning behind the plan, a gnome replies: "Phase one: collect underpants. Phase two: [pauses, points to question mark]. Phase three: profit."
Since the episode first aired, memes revolving around the joke have been floating around the internet — although nothing has quite matched this level.
"Obviously it's going to be a challenge to fund this whole endeavor," he said, after passing the slide. He said SpaceX's plan is to "make us much progress as we can" before funding is determined.