Elon Musk has been the target of a relentless smear campaign this year. While greedy (and shadowy) figures spew salacious gossip, diehard Tesla fanboys claim to know the real deal — right down to the most obscure detail about The Ironman. Hint: see item #5 below. To test your own knowledge, see if you’re aware of these surprising 15 factoids (via CNBC and Redbook) about Elon Musk.
Musk was raised in Pretoria, South Africa, before moving to Canada at age 17. Three years later, he moved to the United States to study business and physics at the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia.
All that work at Tesla, SpaceX, and PayPal has really paid off for Musk. He’s currently the 37th-richest person in the world, according to Forbes.
He reportedly taught himself the basics of computer programming when he was only 9 years old. Three years later, Musk built a space-themed PC game called Blastar. He sold the code for Blastar for $500 to a computer magazine. You can actually still play Blastar online.
After earning two bachelors’ degrees (yes, two) at the University of Pennsylvania, he moved to California to study Physics at Stanford. But after just two days, he dropped out to found his first company, Zip2 Corporation.
The superhero/serial entrepreneur Tony Stark a.k.a Ironman, is based at least a little bit on Musk. The actor who plays him, Robert Downey Jr., reportedly wanted to sit down with Musk to get inspiration for the character. Parts of Iron Man 2 were even filmed at SpaceX and Musk made a cameo appearance in the movie.
Musk’s total compensation package for Tesla is less than $40,000, and he reportedly doesn’t even cash the checks. However, between the 35 million Tesla shares he owns, and his earnings from SpaceX and he’s doing alright
Musk is the owner of the “Wet Nellie,” a Lotus submarine car prop from the 1970s James Bond movie The Spy Who Loved Me. He reportedly plans to convert it into a real car that transforms into a sub
During a Tesla factory upgrade, Musk decided to name some of the factory’s new robots after X-Men characters, including Xavier, Iceman, Wolverine, Storm, and Colossus. When announcing the factory upgrade, Tesla wrote, “To us, these robots are like superheroes, so we figured they deserved superhero names.”
When he was attending the University of Pennsylvania, Musk and his roommate decided to escape student housing and live in a bigger house off-campus. In order to pay the rent, they turned it into a nightclub that attracted as many as 1,000 patrons per night.
A housekeeper would take care of Musk and his siblings when his parents were away. “She wasn’t, like, watching me. I was off making explosives and reading books and building rockets and doing things that could have gotten me killed,” said Musk. “I’m shocked that I have all my fingers.”
Musk traveled with his cousins to Johannesburg for a Dungeons & Dragons tournament. “That was us being nerd masters supremes,” Musk told Ashley Vance, author of his biography. According to his cousin Peter Rive, Musk helped their team win the tournament with his “incredible imagination” and ability to keep people “captivated and inspired.”
Musk was determined to survive on $1 a day by buying food at the supermarket in bulk when he arrived in North America. “I went more for the hotdogs and oranges… [but] you do get really tired of hot dogs and oranges after a while,” explained Musk — mixing things up every now and then with some “pasta and green pepper and a big thing of sauce” which he said could “go pretty far too.”
Musk got the idea to open an arcade by his high school, according to Vance’s book. He teamed up with his brother. They got as far as signing a lease, setting contracts together, and filling out forms at the city planning department. But their plans were foiled when the city told them they were too young.
Musk said, “I was raised by books. Books, and then my parents.” He would pore over books for up to 10 hours a day. He reportedly read the entire Encyclopedia Britannica at age nine and moved on to sci-fi and fantasy favorites including The Lord of the Rings, The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, and Isaac Asimov’s Foundation series. Back in 2010, if you’d invested in Elon Musk’s electric car startup when it made its initial public offering, that investment would’ve really paid off. A $1,000 investment in Tesla would be worth more than $21,000 as of Dec. 12, according to CNBC calculations, including price appreciation and dividend gains reinvested.
TODAY – NOW! Elon Musk’s SpaceX Launches NASA Astronauts Into Orbit.
Elon Musk’s SpaceX and NASA blasted two astronauts into orbit, marking the first human launch from U.S. soil in nearly a decade and a new partnership between industry and government aimed at revitalizing the country’s space ambitions.
Saturday’s successful blastoff—from the same launchpad at Kennedy Space Center in Cape Canaveral, Fla., that sent Apollo crews to the moon during the height of the Cold War—sought to highlight American persistence and scientific know-how even as the U.S. continues to grapple with the coronavirus pandemic. It also is the first step seeking to establish the trajectory for space tourism, provide momentum for proposed public-private partnerships to explore the moon, and eventually set the stage for longer ventures deeper into space.
The launch was the second attempt after bad weather foiled the mission initially scheduled Wednesday barely 17 minutes before liftoff. Even if the rest of the mission goes as smoothly as Saturday’s events, such public-private partnerships face significant funding and technical challenges, starting with current uncertainties about making a profit from ventures outside the Earth’s atmosphere.
Strapped into a reusable, gumdrop-shaped capsule called Crew Dragon, veteran astronauts Bob Behnken and Doug Hurley embarked on a scheduled 19-hour voyage to the international space station circling the globe 250 miles up, with President Trump and Vice President Mike Pence observing the fiery scene in person. The Space Exploration and Technologies Corp. Falcon 9 rocket lifted off at 3:22 p.m. local time, successfully reaching initial orbit 12 minutes later. The crew is slated to remain at the international laboratory for at least two months, before returning with the capsule’s parachute landing in the Atlantic. After the launch, NASA chief Jim Bridenstine said, “I was praying for Bob and Doug. I was praying for their families.”
Referring to the nearly four-year delay in Crew Dragon’s maiden trip with astronauts, Mr. Bridenstine said with a smile, “We might be a little late, but we got it done.”
The day before liftoff, he drew a parallel between current national crises—including Covid-19 and nationwide protests against police brutality toward black Americans—to moon landings amid race riots and anti-Vietnam War demonstrations two generations ago. “NASA has a long history of doing stunning things in the middle of very difficult times,” Mr. Bridenstine told Bloomberg television. Partisan arguments on Capitol Hill have impeded some U.S. space initiatives, exacerbating NASA budget travails that threaten long-term program stability. The agency also has been notorious for multibillion-dollar cost overruns, nagging schedule delays and bureaucracy that space experts say sometimes prizes protecting federal and contractor jobs above nimble engineering responses.NASA has invested a total of more than $7 billion of taxpayer money so far in SpaceX and Boeing Co. efforts to resume astronaut liftoffs from a U.S. pad, and Mr. Bridenstine sees Saturday’s event as recasting the path for America, other nations and industry to reach space. U.S. astronauts “need to have the capability of accessing space, not just for NASA but for all of humanity,” he said this month. Less than $3 billion of NASA’s total investment in such commercial space taxis so far has gone to support SpaceX’s work, based on agency documents and estimates of space experts. In its infancy, Mr. Musk’s company avoided insolvency by snaring earlier NASA dollars to develop a cargo-transportation system to the space station. SpaceX hasn’t publicly released details of its own spending on Crew Dragon, though it will be paid a fixed price for each astronaut delivered to orbit. Separately, experts have estimated SpaceX has invested nearly $1 billion to develop a heavy-lift booster.
Elon Musk: SpaceX Falcon Heavy costs $150 million at most
Overall, NASA sys commercial alternatives will save it some $20 billion, versus the projected development and testing costs for U.S. government-owned alternative vehicles that the Obama administration canceled a decade ago. But SpaceX’s per-seat costs have ballooned from its preliminary projections, which promised lawmakers price tags a fraction of the cost of buying seats on Russian craft. That has been the only way NASA astronauts have been able to reach space during the nine years since the shuttle fleet was retired. The closely held Southern California company, founded in 2002 and privately dismissed by veteran space executives throughout many of its early years, bested longtime NASA contractor Boeing for the honor of providing the initial ride to orbit. In the coming months, Boeing is expected to conduct test flights of its own versions of space taxis to ferry astronauts to and from the station. Regular flights by both companies could be underway by 2021. “We are committed to having two partners,” Mr. Bridenstine has said.
On Saturday, however, much of the emphasis was on the flawless countdown at the historic launch complex 39A, synonymous with U.S. space exploits. Capping weeks of media buildup and a barrage of NASA publicity, the crew underwent final medical checks, received weather and other briefings and then rode to the pad in a white, electric-powered sedan emblazoned with NASA logos and built by Tesla Inc., another of Mr. Musk’s companies.
After achieving liftoff and about nine minutes into the 12-minute ride to orbit, the second-stage engine shut off precisely on time at an altitude of some 120 miles. Shortly afterward, the capsule separated cleanly from the remaining part of the rocket.
With the capsule’s thrusters working as designed and its life-support system also operating well, the Crew Dragon made its way toward entering the optimum orbit to catch up with the space station.
During the early phases of building the capsule, Mr. Musk’s engineering and design teams favored a fully autonomous spacecraft. But NASA officials prevailed on SpaceX’s leadership to include manual options, reflecting persistent technical arguments from agency experts on top of political sensitivities to protect the prestige and central role of astronauts.
Once the capsule is safely on its journey toward the space station, Mr. Hurley, a Marine Corps colonel and mission commander, will use touch-screen controls to get the feel of manual handling. “It’s obviously something that we want to make sure we understand completely for future crews,” he told reporters recently.
The crew also will have the chance to report how well Crew Dragon’s bathroom works, just as the astronauts will assess everything from the performance of life-support systems to mundane items such as placement of Velcro straps to keep items from floating around in the weightlessness of space.
With the White House betting so much politically on Wednesday’s mission, the pressure on SpaceX and NASA won’t diminish even after a successful rendezvous in orbit. “I will start sleeping again when they are back on the planet,” Gwynne Shotwell, the company’s president and chief operating officer, told reporters weeks ago.