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Tesla's Elon Musk Shoots for the Stars

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Not content to be a mere hotshot upstart of the American auto industry, Tesla chairman and CEO Elon Musk wants to blaze vapor trails, too. With the impending retirement of NASA's space shuttles in 2010, Musk is vying with other entrepreneurs to meet America's space flight needs until NASA's next-gen fleet launches (literally) around 2015--and apparently, he's vying pretty well: NASA just awarded Musk's Space Exploration Technologies (aka SpaceX) one of two contracts to deliver cargo to the International Space Station, beginning in 2010.

While the NASA contracts--collectively worth $3.5 billion--are technically for unmanned cargo flights, Musk has his sights set higher:

In an interview at the sprawling SpaceX headquarters building, where engineers and builders design and create almost every part of the rocket, Mr. Musk said his company was an expression of his deep belief that leaving Earth was the next phase of human existence.

“The thing that is important to the future of life itself is having a second planet where life can be sustained and grow,” he said.

Yeah, it sounds a little crazy, but as Musk points out, people called him crazy when he started a little company called PayPal, too. I wouldn't bet against the guy--would you?

[via New York Times]

--Richard Read

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