By David E. Hubler
Sir Richard Branson, creator of Virgin Air and Virgin Galactic among other companies, and Amazon founder Jeff Bezos have successfully launched themselves to the edges of outer space within the past 14 days.
So attention now turns to Elon Musk, Tesla automaker and founder of Space X Corp. He is the third member of the very exclusive billionaires club of space enthusiasts.
Musk, a South African-born American entrepreneur, founded X.com in 1999, which later became PayPal. He founded Space Exploration Technologies Corporation, or SpaceX, in 2002. By 2008, SpaceX was well established, and NASA awarded the company the contract to transport cargo to the International Space Station (ISS), with plans one day to also shuttle astronauts to the ISS and back home again.
SpaceX Successfully Launched the First Commercial Spacecraft to Reach the ISS
Four years later, SpaceX successfully launched the first commercial spacecraft to reach the ISS. Musk’s rockets have been successfully resupplying the ISS ever since.
In February of 2018, Musk may have surpassed such fabled automakers as Henry Ford, Ransom Olds, Walter Chrysler, and Karl Benz when he successfully test-launched his powerful Falcon Heavy Rocket. As part of the test, Musk’s payload was a cherry red Tesla Roadster, equipped with a “Starman” mannequin and cameras to “provide some epic views” of the vehicle’s journey toward the sun.
According to the RedRoadster tracker, in the three years and five months “on the road,” the Tesla has traveled almost 87 million miles (almost 140,000 km) at speeds of just over 38,000 mph (61.3 km/h). The tracker adds that the vehicle has averaged 13,885 mpg and exceeded its 36,000-mile warranty 48,597 times.
Now all eyes are on Musk himself, watching for when he makes his maiden flight to the edges of space or beyond. Prior to Branson’s flight on July 11, Musk suggested on Twitter that he would be on hand to watch.
Musk ‘Reportedly Purchased a Ticket’ for Virgin Galactic
Musk “reportedly purchased a ticket” for Virgin Galactic, which flew Branson and five others to the edges of space, The Wall Street Journal reported.
“A spokesman for Galactic said Mr. Musk had bought a ticket for his own space ride. It is unclear how far up the waiting list Mr. Musk is for a seat. Virgin Galactic said its tickets have sold for $250,000 each, and the company has collected $80 million in sales and deposits, the Journal added. As the song says, “Nice work if you can get it.”
Musk has had his sights set on space travel ever since he was a schoolboy. After all, he grew up during the height of America’s space program that landed men on the moon. So it would not be a surprise if his journey into space includes a few touches all his own.