The Martian Chronicles: what new we have learned about Elon Musk from his biography

Elon Musk earned $10 billion, created a mass market of electric cars and docked the first private spaceship to the ISS, but the first big book about him has been published only recently. 
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In 1948, when the grandfather Elon Musk emigrated from Canada to South Africa, he dismantled his plane Bellanca Cruisair apart and moved to a new home. Then, in a tiny car has traveled halfway around the world - in Norway and Australia - with his wife, who worked as a navigator. First no one had done this route a single-engine machine. Perhaps his incredible willingness to take risks and Elon Musk has inherited from his grandfather, who died in '72 at the helm of the aircraft.

Up to 40 years Musk had to establish (or to participate in the creation of) four successful companies. Three of them still exist: it is an electric car manufacturer Tesla (capitalization - $ 31.47 billion), aerospace company SpaceX (estimated cost - $ 12 billion) and PayPal, bought once eBay. Analysts at Bloomberg Industries is now estimated billing system to $ 47 billion. Yet almost $ 6 billion worth company Solar City, which Musk chairman of the board of directors, major shareholders and founders cousin.

Musk is not just built a few billionths of a company, but made it there, where for decades no one could compete with "dinosaurs"private space and the automotive industry. But the first real book out of it just now. Its author, journalist Ashlee Vance spoke with dozens of relatives and friends Mask, with its hundreds of partners and colleagues, investors and ex-wives, and finally, with himself. If you find that the text is hardly definitive biography of the hero, it was only because the hero himself was not yet 45. Rather, Vance was excellent 300-page report about a man who really wants to get to Mars.

Executive Director of PayPal, Peter Thiel (left) and founder Elon Musk payment system in the company's headquarters in Palo Alto, California

Start astrodynamics

Musk did not believe that he had a happy childhood: life in South Africa, apartheid, despite the outward prosperity, it was not easy. Therefore, he avidly read science fiction and programmed (code of its first game, written in 12 years, was published in a local magazine). And as soon as the opportunity presented itself, I ran away from home and out of the country. In the incomplete 18 years Musk flew back to Canada, having a soul is only a phone numberrelatives, which was not there. He changed a few daily work and even worked as a cleaner boiler at the mill: it was the most profitable work at the labor exchange, $ 18 per hour. However, 30 people have started to work with him, and only three have held the first week.

Then he studied, trained in the bank Nova Scotia, received degrees in physics and business administration at the University of Pennsylvania - to pay for their studies, they are a neighbor made a clandestine club removed for a song vacant building fraternity and summer Musk worked in a software company California.

First, nefuturisticheskaya career Elon Musk would have pulled on the screenplay. At 27, he became a millionaire when Zip2 company (now would call it the yellow pages with geolocation, kind of 2Gis) bought Compaq. Founder had already been kicked out of the company, not without scandal, but he got $ 22 million for its stake. They bought a race car McLaren F1, Czech combat training aircraft L39 and received a pilot's license. But most of the money, about $ 12 million invested in a new start -, a pioneer of online payments. From upPayPal, sold in 2002 for $ 1.5 billion (this story is already in the set of books). Founder again managed to oust the company and again a grandiose scandal, but this time the action brought him more than $ 150 million. With this money, Musk, barely exchanged fourth ten, he began to build his empire.

Even in the African youth Musk loved to tell random interlocutors that the colonization of Mars, a question of survival for humanity. People do not have the right to put all the achievements of civilization in one basket, even if the cart 6 thous. Km in diameter. Having physical education and getting rich, he did not leave the idea. Once Musk climbed the NASA website to find there a detailed plan for the development of Mars, and could not find a single line. "At first I thought, gosh, I do not look back," - he recalled later.

When he was expelled from "Life on Mars" another private company, he founded and became the Fund consult with astronauts, rocket engineers, NASA experts - all as many as they could get. The result of their own thoughts and conversations became a plan as simple as all genius: send to Marcha greenhouse with plants, so that they began to produce oxygen on the Red Planet. After all, the world air breathable appeared as a result of photosynthesis. Musk estimated that the operation could crank out 20 million per, if bought in Russia a few missiles and tailor them to their needs.

The first business plan SpaceX Musk sketched on a plane, waiting for departure from Moscow. It was his second visit to Russia - it was enough to understand that he will not be able to negotiate the purchase of the used ballistic missiles. There was a chilly February day, and US negotiators came to a depression, not talking to each other all the way to the airport. Already in the plane mask companions ordered drinks and began to rebound as he handed them to his laptop and said, "I think we can build this missile itself. No, seriously, I have plaque and eat. " In ekselevskom file were painted materials and components needed for the construction of the carrier, and even its specifications. A physicist by training, Musk many months reading books on the subject: "Basics of rocket", "Start astodinamiki "and" Gas turbines and rocket engines. " As it turned out, by the way: in a few weeks on the PayPal transaction has been closed and some money.

The fundamental purpose

At the end of 2002, the mask was a registered company, a huge hangar at Los Angeles, who first served for the assembly of the Boeing 737 fuselage, and the belief that one and a half years he will make a successful launch. A year later appeared Merlin engine, and then - the first rocket Falcon 1 and several false starts. That all happened, it took six years, but in the end the first private rocket reached Earth orbit on liquid fuel.

Achieving SpaceX first of its kind. Aerospace companies, even private, has always been a lot, but none of them could not boast of achievements mask and companies. In ten years, SpaceX has developed its own rocket engine, several models of Falcon launch vehicle and spacecraft of Dragon, successfully docked with the International Space Station. All this has been done several times faster and many times cheaper than the competition, including not only hstnye company, but also the great powers.

A launch of the Falcon 9 rocket is many times smaller than comparable rocket launch United Launch Alliance, Boeing and Lockheed Martin joint venture and its main competitor Space X. It's hard to believe that in some sectors there may be such a disparity, but it's true. Accumulated inefficient space industry impressed the mask. One of his employees was looking for a supplier for very simple actuator in a rocket, and no one did not agree to make the item for less than $ 120 thousand When he told this mask, he laughed. "This item is not complicated folding automatic lift door in the garage. Do you have a $ 5 thousand -. Figure out how to do it for the money. " The problem was solved: subordinates know that the mask is ready to listen to anything, but not the word "impossible."

Economical businessman entered the legend. Among the now billion-dollar cost of all purchases over $ 10 thousand. Must be authorized personally CEO. Its employees remember that mask, ready at any moment to send my plane for production The necessityBridge, refused to purchase the equipment for a few thousand dollars: it can be done cheaper. In particular, therefore, SpaceX, which was originally planned to buy many accessories on the side, learned to produce 90% of the missiles in its own shop. In recent congressional hearings, trying to convince the government to entrust the defense of his company's launch of satellites, Musk even played the patriotic card. Boeing and Lockheed Martin are dependent on supplies from Russia, but his rocket from start to finish is produced on American soil.

With SpaceX military orders may be close to its long-standing goal - to 12 launches per year, which will provide the company's first profit. But ultimately, Elon Musk (the state more than $ 10 billion) concerned have not arrived - they simply did not allow him to go out of business, and higher purpose. In 2013, when employees with options began to whisper to each other that it would be good to conduct a public offering of shares and give engineers earn Musk wrote a letter to colleagues. "I am very concerned about the idea of ​​going to IPO, before we will establish transport on Mars. Creating the technology needed for pojavleniya life there have always been and remain a fundamental objective of our company. "

Elon Musk History at a Glance

27 years was the mask, when he became a millionaire. Then he received a share from the sale of the company Zip2, bought Compaq. At the time of the transaction in Zip2 Musk did not work

$ 12 million was invested in the mask company, which later turned into a payment service PayPal

The $ 13.3 billion is estimated condition mask at the moment

$ 1 million donated in 2014. Musk the American Museum of Nikola Tesla. In the name of the scientist called the mask company Tesla Motors, which produces electric

10,05 thousand. Electric Tesla Model S was sold in the first quarter of 2015

$ 1.6 billion was the amount of the contract, which concluded in 2008, SpaceX and NASA

700 satellites for the distribution of the Internet is about to launch Elon Musk to create a global Internet provider. He estimated that about $ 10 billion is required for the project

Sources: Forbes, these companies Tesla Motors, SpaceX, CNet, Bloomberg Businessweek, NASA

Production novel

SpaceH, Vance sure it is Elon Musk, if all elseNIL its manifestations. The rest - it's five sons, twins and triplets, who four days a week, live with his father, investments, chief among them the solar energy operator of Solar City, and Tesla Motors (two days a week he flies to Northern California to manage the automotive company, spending the night in friends). More recently - and even project vactrain Hyperloop transonic speeds. To cope with all this, Musk spends to work 400 hours per month, and suggests that others should do the same. "Something too many of us stopped working on Saturdays," - he once told his employees.

The Soviet industrial novels there is always the protagonist, an engineer, who throws all his forces, every second of your time dealing with any technical problems. He is not sleeping and not eating, working 12 hours a day, quarreling with the woman, unable to shake off the bourgeois intoxication, fighting with the lazy and cunning peers and eventually wins. Its plant increases the release of the threaded bolts by 13%. Book Ashlee Vance - is in some sense rum productionen, not cardboard, and the present.

Thousand of engineers do not sleep and do not eat and do not quarrel with his girlfriend because he did not even have time to make them. Every day they face hundreds of new problems, which threaten to destroy the company right now (Musk three stood on the brink of bankruptcy in the last ten years, because all their money to the last penny invested in the business). By creating "on the knee" whole new industry, they have time to joke, read a book and enjoy life. Even the purpose of the above - not the victory of communism in a single country, and the existence of all humanity.

At first glance, all the enthusiasm and enterprise Elon Musk little to do with each other. But they are not accidental - and interplanetary transport and solar energy, and an electric he always thought in his youth, all his friends agree. In addition, although this book is not written, after reading it is difficult to escape the impression that all these attempts to create a "necessary for the emergence of life on Mars" technology. Indeed, if humanity colonize the Red Planet, it will be necessary not only missiles,and quality of solar panels and electric vehicles, and powerful batteries (Tesla in April beginning to sell them), and possibly the vacuum train.

"I want to die on Mars - Musk says - but not at the landing." If all goes according to his plan, the book will be a continuation. Another industrial saga, but this time taking place not on Earth.