Why can’t we get enough of him?
Elon Musk, is a high tech inventor and dreamer, business magnate, engineer, investor and a self made multimillionaire. He is the founder, CEO and CTO of the SpaceX; co-founder, CEO and product architect of the largely acclaimed Tesla Motors; chairman of Solar City, co-chairman of OpenAI; co-founder of Zip2; and co-founder of PayPal or X.com. As of April 2016, he has an estimated net worth of US$14.1 billion, ranking him at 94th wealthiest person at Forbes List US.
At Tesla he’s busy trying to bring fully-electric vehicles to the mass market. At SpaceX, he’s trying to revolutionize space tech to enable people to live on other planets. And being the chairman of SolarCity, the publicly-traded solar panel designer and installer, he dreams of harnessing solar energy to b utilized in everyday life.
These spectacular projects—PayPal, SolarCity, Tesla, SpaceX, Hyperloop-shows intense con. They’re such ambitious projects, at scale. How on Earth has one person been able to innovate in this way—what is it about him?
Early days of Elon Musk:
Musk was born June 28, 1971, in Pretoria, Transvaal, South Africa, the son of Maye and Errol Musk, a South African-born electromechanical engineer. At the age of nine when he got his hands on his first computer, the Commodore VIC-20.It came with five kilobytes of memory and a “how to program” guide that was intended to take the user six months to complete. Nine-year-old Elon finished it in three days.
At 12, he used his skills to create a video game called Blastar, and in 1983, it was good enough to be sold to a computer magazine for $500. At age 17, in 1989, he moved to Canada to attend Queen’s University, but he left in 1992 to study business and physics at the University of Pennsylvania. He graduated with an undergraduate degree in economics and stayed for a second bachelor’s degree in physics.
Ahead of his times:
Musk created startups of its own kind and managed to became a multimillionaire in his late 20s when he sold his start-up company, Zip2. He achieved more success by founding X.com in 1999, SpaceX in 2002 and Tesla Motors in 2003. He made prominent news in May 2012, when SpaceX launched a rocket that would send the first commercial vehicle to the International Space Station. Musk provided the initial concept and financial capital for SolarCity, which was then co-founded in 2006 underlying his motivation to help combat global warming. Let us take you through the travel guide of his life.
After leaving Penn, at age 24, Elon Musk headed to Stanford University in California to pursue a Ph.D in energy physics. His move was timed perfectly with the Internet boom, launching his first company, Zip2 Corporation. An online city guide, Zip2 was soon providing content for the new web sites of both the New York Times and the Chicago Tribune, and in 1999, a division of Compaq Computer Corporation bought Zip2 for $307 million in cash and $34 million in stock options.
He had entrepreneurial aspirations in areas of Internet, Renewable energy and Aerospace. In 1999, Musk co-founded X.com, an online financial services/payments company. An X.com acquisition the following year led to the creation of PayPal as it is known today, and in October 2002, PayPal was acquired by eBay for $1.5 billion in stock but however before the sale, Musk owned 11 percent of PayPal stock.
Musk founded his third company, Space Exploration Technologies Corporation, or SpaceX, in 2002 with the intention of building spacecraft for commercial space travel and by 2008, SpaceX was well established, and NASA awarded the company the contract to handle cargo transport for the International Space Station.
The boundless potential of space exploration and the preservation of the future of the human race have become the cornerstones of Musk’s abiding interests, and toward these he has founded the Musk Foundation, which is dedicated to space exploration and the discovery of renewable and clean energy sources. He has high hopes for multiplanetory life and reveals that he wishes to establish a Mars colony by 2040, with a population of 80,000. Musk stated that, since Mars atmosphere lacks oxygen, all transportation would have to be electric.
SpaceX is both the largest private producer of rocket motors in the world, and the record holder for highest thrust-to-weight ratio for any known rocket motor. In two years, SpaceX has produced more than 100 operational Merlin 1D engines, currently the world’s most powerful motor for its weight.
On May 22, 2012, Musk and SpaceX made history when the company launched its Falcon 9 rocket into space with an unmanned capsule. The vehicle was sent to the International Space Station with 1,000 pounds of supplies for the astronauts stationed there, marking the first time a private company had sent a spacecraft to the International Space Station. In December 2013, SpaceX notched another milestone when Falcon 9 carried a satellite to geosynchronous transfer orbit, a distance at which the satellite would lock into an orbital path that matched the Earth’s rotation. In February 2015, SpaceX launched another Falcon 9 fitted with the Deep Space Climate Observatory (DSCOVR) satellite, aiming to observe the extreme emissions from the sun that affect power grids and communications systems on Earth.
On April 8, 2016, SapceX had another breakthrough under its belt. Falcon 9 rocket blasted off from Florida during a cargo run for ISS and its reusable main-stage booster landed on an ocean platform in a dramatic spaceflight scenario. The feat marked yet another major milestone in the quest by high-tech entrepreneur Musk, founder and chief executive of the private launch service, to develop a cheap, reusable launch vehicle.
Tesla Motors was incorporated in July 2003 by Martin Eberhard and Marc Tarpenning, prior to Elon Musk’s involvement Musk led the Series A round of investment in Feb 2004, joining Tesla’s board of Directors as its Chairman. Five years after its formation, the company in 2008 unveiled the Tesla Model Roadster, a sports car capable of accelerating from 0 to 60 mph in a mere 3.7 seconds, as well traveling nearly 250 miles with its lithum ion battery.
But soon, awakening from financial constraints came the Tesla Model S, the company’s first electric sedan. Capable of covering 265 miles between charges and runs 0 to 60 mph in 2.8 seconds , the Model S was honored as the 2013 Car of the Year by Motor Trend magazine. And thus standards were set for Tesla with its ever increasing popularity and mass following with a one of its kind complete all electric car trains. The manufacturing process uses more than 160 specialist robots, including 10 of the largest robots in the world, which are named after X-Men characters.
It unveiled its third product, the Tesla Model X aimed at SUV platform with famous Falcon wings and runs 0 to 60 mph in 3.8 seconds. In addition to its own cars, Tesla sells electric powertrain systems to Daimler or the Smart EV, Mercedes B-Class and A-Class for Electric Drive and to Toyota for the RAV4EV Electronic platform.
The Tesla factory has output from 30,000 to 50,000 cars/year. The Tesla factory in California has the second largest building footprint in the world.
Adding to the Tesla Milestone, arrives the groundbreaking Tesla Model 3 unveiled on March 2016; with key specs of 215 miles per charge, supercharging and high safety standards. The model is under trial phase and expected to get on road by 2017.
Musk believes in turning dreams to reality and he has continued his work in thriving to make his innovative ideas a reality. In August 2013, he released a concept for a new form of high speed transportation module called the “Hyperloop,” an invention that would foster commuting between major cities while severely cutting travel time. Ideally resistant to weather and powered by renewable energy, the Hyperloop would propel riders and passengers in pods through a network of low-pressure tubes at speeds reaching more than 700 mph.
According to Musk, the Hyperloop could take from seven to 10 years to be built and ready for use with an estimated cost of $6 billion. The company Hyperloop Transportation Technologies has agreed to a deal with the proposed 75,000-resident solar power city, halfway between Los Angeles and San Francisco, to build a 5-mile Hyperloop track around the community. Construction is set to begin in 2016 and he announced a competition for teams to submit their designs for a Hyperloop pod prototype, with participants getting the chance to test their creations on a track at the SpaceX facility by August 2016. He has proposed a VTOL supersonic jet aircraft with electric fan propulsion, known as the Musk electric Jet.
In December 2015, Elon Musk created the OpenAI, a not-for-profit artificial intelligence (AI) research company which aims to develop artificial general intelligence in a way that is safe and beneficial to humanity. By making AI available to everyone, OpenAI wants to “counteract large corporations who may gain too much power by owning super-intelligence systems devoted to profits, as well as governments which may use AI to gain power and even oppress their citizenry”. Musk has previously invested in DeepMind (an AI firm) and Vicarious, a company working to improve machine intelligence. In January 2015, he donated $10 million to the Future of Life Institute, an organization focused on challenges posed by advanced technologies.
The century has seen continuous challenges and inventions, reviving the theory of human sustainability and development. Musk has being a frontrunner and his dedications is nothing less than a boon to the science of existence.
When asked whether he believed in destiny or religion “there was some kind of destiny involved” in humanity’s transition to a multi-planetary species, rather than “just physics”. His terrific accomplishments are worthy of true science and indigenous talent. Quoted by his own words “I’m very pro-environment, but let’s figure out how to do it better and not jump through a dozen hoops to achieve what is obvious in the first place.”