From the Internet to manned spacecraft to electric cars to solar cells to education, Elon Musk is on a mission to develop innovative solutions to many of mankind’s toughest challenges.By any measure, Elon Musk is a true innovator. He made his fortune on developing innovative Internet-based tools. Now he hopes to expand that fortune by building cost-effective, reliable manned spacecraft. But his story doesn’t stop there at all—he’s also the chairman and the primary investor in the development of cost-effective electric cars and California’s largest installer of innovative solar cell systems. But Musk isn’t interested in building a fortune. He’s interested in solving problems and solving them with a cost structure such that everyman can use them.
For these and the reasons noted below, Elon Musk has been selected by the editors of R&D Magazine as our 2007 R&D Innovator of the Year (IOY).
Musk is the CEO and CTO of Space Exploration Technologies Corp. (SpaceX), El Segundo, Calif., a company he founded in 2002 to develop rockets and spacecraft for missions to earth orbit and beyond. In 2006, SpaceX won the NASA competition to design, build, and demonstrate operation of a commercial replacement for the Space Shuttle, which is scheduled to be retired in just a little more than three years, in 2010. The NASA-designed replacement for the Shuttle, the Orion spacecraft, is not scheduled to be available until 2015 at the earliest, leaving a five-year gap in heavy-launch availability. This is where the SpaceX proposal is expected to step up—with its Falcon 9 Heavy, launch vehicle, its 30-ton payload to orbit capabilities, and the Dragon manned capsule with a 7-man crew capability.
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