Tuesday, June 02, 2020

A salute to Elon Musk

The greatest unmentioned fact about Saturday's docking of the Dragon Crew capsule with the International Space Station is that it was the work of an immigrant.

Elon Musk was born and reared in Pretoria, South Africa, but left at 17 to study at Queens University in Ontario, then at the University of Pennsylvania, graduating in 1997 with a double degree -- BA in economics, BS in physics. He was then nearly 26, but he'd spent the extra time well, interning at Silicon Valley, starting and dropping a PhD program at Stanford, and setting  up his first company, which in 1999 was acquired by Compaq, giving Mr Musk a payout of $22 million. He used this money to start a new company that morphed into PayPal, from which he walked away with $165 million in 2002. That money went to establish SpaceX, which on Friday became the world's first privately owned company to launch astronauts into earth orbit.

And in his spare time, of course, Mr Musk upended the US and indeed the world's car industry with a little company called Tesla. According to Wikipedia, he was worth $36.5 billion in May, and I suspect it's a bit more today. But what Elon Musk has brought to America -- in pride, progress, and taxes paid -- is incalculable.


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