Elon Musk (born 1971): Founded SpaceX in 2002. The company built, then flew the Falcon 1 and 2 rockets, as well as the Dragon Spacecraft. SpaceX is the first privately-funded firm to launch liquid-fuelled rockets that deployed satellites in space. In 2012, the Dragon became the first privately-owned spacecraft to dock with the ISS. Musk, a native of South Africa, hopes to foster a ‘space-faring’ civilization, with the long-term goal of going to Mars.
Elon Musk was born on June 28, 1971, in Pretoria, South Africa. He taught himself computer programming and at age twelve sold the computer code for a video game. He moved to Canada in 1988 and is a graduate of the University of Pennsylvania, with both Bachelor of Arts and Bachelor of Science Degrees. He became an American citizen in 2002.
The same year, Musk, who had made hundreds of millions of dollars in other business ventures, founded his third company, Space Exploration Technologies (SpaceX). He announced that its goal was to develop and manufacture space launch vehicles. SpaceX was awarded a $1.6 billion NASA contract in 2008 for twelve flights of the Falcon 9 rocket and Dragon spacecraft to the International Space Station (ISS), beginning in 2011 as a replacement for the Space Shuttle.
In September 2009, SpaceX’s Falcon 1 rocket became the first privately funded liquid-fuelled vehicle to put a satellite into Earth orbit. On 25 May 2012, the SpaceX Dragon vehicle docked with the ISS. This made SpaceX the first commercial company to launch and dock a vehicle to the International Space Station. Musk is currently working on delivering astronauts to the International Space Station. He is also planning on the human exploration and settlement of the planet Mars, with a permanent base on the Red Planet no later than the year 2031.
Elon Musk is a Director of the Planetary Society, a Trustee of The X-Prize Foundation and a member of the Stanford University Engineering Advisory Board. He has also been a member of the United States National Academy of Sciences Aeronautics and Space Engineering Board. He sits on the boards of The Space Foundation, The National Academies Aeronautics and Space Engineering Board, The Planetary Society, and Stanford Engineering Advisory Board and is a member of the board of trustees of the California Institute of Technology.