Elon Musk: how the dreams of a South African boy about stars turned into reality

Elon Musk: how the dreams of a South African boy about stars turned into reality

Cosmos Agency • Space tourism • Big space race of billionaires

Elon Musk, Jeff Bezos and other wealthy entrepreneurs are competing to push the boundaries of private space travel.

Why are private companies going into the space business?

After NASA's funding cut, there is a void that needs to be filled. The National Space Agency's budget fell from 4.4% in 1966 to the current 0.5%, as did its ambitions. The downfall has spurred several wealthy entrepreneurs to come forward and invest hundreds of millions of dollars in private companies in space exploration, serious scientific research, and space tourism and other commercial ventures.

The companies are run by Amazon founder Jeff Bezos and Tesla CEO Elon Musk, competing fiercely like the United States and the Union during the Cold War. Bezos founded Blue Origin with the goal of fulfilling the dream of "millions of people living and working in space," and hopes to get space tourists into orbit no later than 2018.

Elon Musk's startup, SpaceX, sends huge Falcon 9 launch vehicles (about 15 stories high) to launch satellites into orbit and ferry NASA cargo to the ISS. But Elon is aiming for Mars. He promises to launch an unmanned capsule within two years to begin experimenting on the Red Planet and lay the foundation for a human landing in 2025. “This is not about sending a few people to Mars, Musk says, but about founding an autonomous city with the goal of - become a city of the interplanetary level. "

What have they achieved so far?

Both companies have had successes and failures. Bezos and Musk carved out a place for themselves in the history of space exploration last year by launching self-guided launch vehicles, namely reusable rockets, which NASA has yet to achieve. This is potentially a game changer.

Until now, launch vehicles separated from the main ship or cargo and fell into the ocean, becoming unusable after one launch. The ability to return the rocket safe and sound implies savings of $ 90 million for future missions, significantly reducing costs. But for some time, Musk's company failed.

What happened?

On September 1, a Falcon 9 exploded at the Cape Canaveral launch site ahead of routine engine start testing, as Elon Musk later stated “The Falcon was lost during the rocket fuel injection procedure. The problem is localized at the first stage oxygen cylinder. " No one was hurt in the blast, but it destroyed the rocket's cargo: Facebook's 200 millionth Amos-6 satellite, built to provide internet services in developing countries.

This was not Musk's first accident. In June 2015, SpaceX's rocket bound for the space station disintegrated after launch; in January of this year, another capsized and exploded while attempting to re-land on a floating barge in the Pacific. "It will definitely hurt their business," said George Washington University space policy expert John Logsdon. "However, we did not stop trying to land on the moon when we had early problems with Apollo."

The Big Space Race of Billionaires

There is no chaos here - Elon Musk knows exactly what commercial space will be like in ten years

On February 6, 2018, spewing sparks and puffs of smoke from the boosters, the Falcon Heavy rocket blasted off the launch pad at Kennedy Space Center. Two minutes later, the Falcon Heavy's side boosters detached from the rocket in a regular manner and headed back to Earth. A couple of minutes later, the rocket nose fairing opened, and Elon Musk's ruby-red Tesla Roadster electric car, launched as a payload, forever became a symbol of the "astronautics of the future" to the accompaniment of David Bowie's Life On Mars song. A spectacular demonstration of technologies took place, and journalists (both foreign and Russian) enthusiastically wrote about the "decline of classical cosmonautics".

Elon Musk against Sea Launch SpaceX will build spaceports on water

But three years have passed since the first launch, and. The Falcon Heavy rocket turned out to be of no use to anyone. Even SpaceX did not conduct any launches with it, except for test ones, preferring the cheaper and more cost-effective Falcon 9. Why did this happen? There are many reasons. Firstly, Elon Musk's main project for the deployment of the Starlink satellite network is experiencing difficulties with the manufacture of a large number of satellites. They are brought out on the cheaper "falcons" of the ninth series and are extremely rare, and there are still no promised launches of 500-800 vehicles at a time. The assembly of the lunar station, for which the Falcon Heavy could be useful, is also stalling so far. Given the fact that Russia will not officially participate in the western mission to explore the moon, the pace of creation of the Gateway station may be significantly slowed down. And this is again a simple and financial vacuum.

"She flies, damn it" American style

Photo © Loren Elliott/Getty Images

"Flying pressure cooker", "foil iron", "cardboard rocket" - whatever they called Starship, the tests of which began back in 2019. However, SpaceX's progress with the new rocket should be viewed through a historical lens. The tests of a rocket that "cannot land back in any way" were also laughed at six or seven years ago. Now what? Now Falcon 9 has almost completely ousted other rockets from the market and regularly make money for Elon Musk. The two explosions of Starship prototypes are not to be taken lightly. For other countries, the destruction of a unique missile is a national tragedy. For SpaceX, these are just expenses, nothing more.

How Jules Verne's Roscosmos can create a cannon for firing satellites

On September 27, at the IAC conference, Elon Musk spoke about his plans to colonize Mars. According to him, already in 2018, the first missions will begin to deliver useful supplies and supplies to Mars necessary for the survival of future colonists, and the first expeditions will be launched in 2022. Taking this opportunity, Disgusting Men again offer readers material about the difficult biography of Elon Musk - a man who took on the task of spreading humanity beyond the Earth.

On April 18, the next flight of the Falcon 9 rocket and the Dragon spacecraft with cargo for the ISS astronauts took place successfully. This ambitious private space exploration project has been successfully ongoing for almost 10 years. Someday such commercial rockets will start taking us on vacation to Mars, but for now, Disgusting Men offers to read about the man who invented and implemented all this.

Who is Elon Musk? You may remember him from the movie "Iron Man 2" or from the computer game Blastar, in which you had to destroy an evil alien ship with a hydrogen bomb on board.

Wait, doesn't that tell you anything? It’s strange.

In fact, there is much more than Elon Musk is famous for. To date, such a difficult task, how to put a spacecraft into orbit and successfully return it to Earth, has been implemented by only thirteen countries and the only commercial company.

Countries of the world are buying his rockets for space launches. His solar powered business is generating revenue. It produces seven-seater electric vehicles. Superheroes imitate him. He would like to die on Mars. He is Elon Musk, the man of tomorrow.

Elon Musk: Universities

It all started in the capital of South Africa, Pretoria. On June 28, 1971, a boy was born into the family of an engineer, who was named Ilona in honor of his great-grandfather. He was smart and curious and entered school a year earlier than his peers, which made him stand out from others. He was doomed to the fate of a botanist, who every day answered the unshakable rhetorical question - “Cho, smart?”. Elon loved books; he read until dark everything he could find, especially the American comics of the 70s, on which he spent all his pocket money. In general, yes - a typical nerd. By the age of 10, Elon was already seriously fascinated by the rapidly developing computer technology and dreamed of space, launching homemade rockets in the yard with his father.

On his tenth birthday, Elon received a computer as a present. Programming fascinated him so much that he learned all the basics on his own.

At the age of 12, he writes a computer game Blastar. The most remarkable thing about this fact: Elon quickly figures out how to sell the game and earns his first $ 500 on a good deal. Together with his brother Kimbal, Ilon decides to get rich by opening his own hall with arcade slot machines. The premises and equipment suppliers were found, but, alas, the verdict of the local authorities was disappointing. When asked for permission to do business, the guys were denied with the predictable wording: "You are too young for this shit!"

At the age of 17, Elon finishes school, and it's time to decide on further actions. For himself, Elon has long decided: South Africa is not the place where dreams come true. They come true in the USA. Uninterested in military service in the context of the continued apartheid in his homeland, he decides to leave for Canada, but his ultimate goal was still the United States.

Elon Musk is a billionaire entrepreneur, one of the founders of PayPal, who became the prototype of Tony Stark from the movie "Iron Man", the hero of Robert Downey Jr.

Musk is also the CEO and CTO of SpaceX, the CEO and chief designer of Tesla Motors, and the chairman of the board of SolarCity.

All these regalia already make Elon Musk a completely unique and extraordinary person. However, the developed imagination and entrepreneurial vein, which have always accompanied Musk on his path to fame, continue to generate idea after idea, many of which at first glance even seem frivolous and not very relevant to the status of this person due to their seeming fantasticness.

We bring to your attention five of the craziest ideas expressed by Elon Musk, with a description of how close humanity is to their implementation.

Internet satellites

Elon Musk wants to offer all mankind the possibility of unlimited access to the Internet at a low cost and easy accessibility for everyone. And how do you think he proposes to bring this project to life? By launching a fleet of satellites into space, of course!

Musk's space launch company SpaceX is currently in the early stages of producing micro-satellites (there should be at least 700) that could operate in space as a combined constellation.

Due to the large volume of the order, the cost of one satellite will be relatively low. According to the WSJ, each satellite will weigh 113 kg, and the creation of the entire fleet will cost $ 1 billion.

Musk is rumored to be working with WorldVu Satellites on this project.

It looks like this project will give the world the technology to make the Internet available to everyone.


Playboy, millionaire and philanthropist is a well-known fact that the prototype of the movie Tony Stark was Elon Musk. The editors of the CPU decided to recall all the ups and downs of the famous entrepreneur - from the failed launch of the first company at the age of 12 and the proximity to bankruptcy to the conclusion of a contract with NASA and ambitious plans for the exploration and colonization of Mars.

First projects

The first company that Musk founded was the startup Zip2. The entrepreneur launched the project with his brother Kimball in 1995. Zip2 made software that enabled news outlets to post content on the Internet and offer their customers additional paid services.

Mohr Dawidov Ventures fund became one of the company's investors. The fund's partners began planning to resell Zip2, but Musk convinced them that its potential was not yet fully realized, and in the future, the startup could be worth more.

Zip2 clients included publications such as The New York Times, Pulitzer Publishing. In 1998, the company's management announced an upcoming merger with CitySearch. The deal was never closed, and a year later, in 1999, the startup was bought by Compaq, paying $ 304 million for Zip2. Elon Musk, whose share in the company at that time was 7%, got $ 20 million.

Elon Musk became a millionaire at 28.

It is noteworthy that Musk learned to program at the age of 10 - and at 12 he already sold his own shooter game Blast Star for $ 500. He even wanted to start his own arcade business, but was unable to get official permission for it.

Xcom, PayPal and Board Disagreements

In 1999, after selling his first company, Musk created X. om, an e-mail payment system. In 2000, X. om merged with Confinity, which included PayPal, an electronic payment service founded by Peter Thiel.

A very smart, very charismatic, amazingly passionate person - an extremely rare combination of character traits. Usually people who possess at least one of them are deprived of the other two. It was a little scary to compete with his Palo Alto startup in 1999-2000.

- Peter Thiel on Elon Musk

X. om's management plans were to merge the two payment systems, but Musk's vision was different from that of other board members. Internal disagreements ended in Musk's forced resignation in 2000 - but he retained his stake in the company (the largest of all X. om owners - 11.7%).

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