Shoot for the Stars! Meet Rocket Man
Updated September 1, 2013
Hope drives the human spirit. Without it we are nothing but spiritually impoverished souls. But hope is also a powerful catalyst to innovation and change. It propels individuals to dream, to create what may appear to be fantastic, if not ludicrous, visions of what could be.
Ever hear of the Wright brothers?
How about Alexander Graham Bell?
Or in a more modern context, Steve Jobs?
Dreams and entrepreneurs are intertwined. They imagine the impossible. And we, as citizens of a globally inter-connected society, benefit.
Meet Elon Musk, aka Rocketman.
Born in South Africa, Musk created PayPal and pocketed $1 billion when he sold it to eBay.
A lover of fast cars and a competent pilot of airplanes, including a Soviet-era Aero L-39 trainer and a Dassault Falcon 900 jet, Musk has never been one to sit still. He itches to create, to be bold and to be different.
The 42 year-old inventor bought a former Boeing jumbo jet assembly plant to build rockets. His company SpaceX supplies the international space station, and is paid by NASA which no longer possesses the capability for low Earth orbit.
Musk is also the CEO and a founder of Tesla Motors. The Tesla is a line-up of high-end electric cars which has just turned its first profit (for example, the Roadster has a base price of $109,000 US) after struggling for several few years. Musk’s focus has been on making the Tesla an affordable vehicle for consumers. (He also sits on the board of Solar City, a solar energy company).
Musk is an extra-ordinary visionary who wants to send expeditions to Mars and to retire there himself one day. SpaceX is spending $400 million to redesign its cargo capsule, the Dragon, to carry passengers.
Musk is also concerned with the practice of disposable rockets and is working towards creating reusable ones. Of significance is that SpaceX has more rockets under development than anywhere on the planet, with more than 50 launches scheduled.
Musk has faced derision by those in NASA and from other scientists for his vision and efforts to create a privately funded space flight company. Yet he has persevered in the face of this and a number of engineering and technical challenges. The South African boy who built toy rockets and who made his own blend of jet fuel is beginning to realize his long-held dream.
I recall a CBS interview with Musk when he was just launching (pardon the pun) into commercial production for rockets for low-earth orbit. When asked by the CBS interviewer how former NASA astronauts had reacted to his vision, he teared up. Here was a billionaire, a brilliant entrepreneur and visionary, crying on national TV.
As indicated earlier, Musk had been fascinated–consumed–with rockets since being a pre-schooler. He adored NASA astronauts. And as an adult he had proven himself as a very successful entrepreneur. All he wanted from his heroes was some form of validation for his efforts. Unfortunately, all re received were condescending comments.
It was devastating to Elon Musk.
However, Musk is an entrepreneur and took the criticism in stride and continued onwards. Fast forward to early 2013 and he’s already in a short time proven the NASA naysayers wrong.
But Elon Musk is always on the move. He’s already on to the next BIG idea, and this one is of huge proportions.
This past August, Musk presented his vision for what he calls a Hyperloop, or what has been called in the past a vacuum train. The “train,” actually pods with 28 people in each one, would travel through an above ground tube at the speed of sound from Los Angelos to San Francisco, in a fraction of the time compared to high-speed trains. Musk estimates the project at $6 billion. He does acknowledge that while he may not have the time to devote his energy to this futuristic project, he is putting the idea out publicly for other creators to pursue.
What does Elon Musk’s story mean to you?
Have people dumped on your dreams?
What is your personal vision?
Don’t ever let anyone convince you that you cannot achieve something.
It’s in your control how you respond and what you decide to do.
“Leaving Earth is our destiny. The moon is only a way-station to Mars. I see millions of people there eventually, arriving in waves every two years when the planets are aligned.”
– Elon Musk (as told to The Sunday Times, London)
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