Elon Musk, 45, is a businessman, an engineer, an inventor, and an explorer. As the founder of Tesla Motors and SpaceX, he’s taking modern technology and travel to new dimensions.
Musk was born on June 28, 1971, in Pretoria, South Africa. At age 10, he developed an interest in computers. After teaching himself programming, Musk created his first piece of software before he turned 13. At 17, he moved to Canada to attend Queen’s University. He later transferred to the University of Pennsylvania to study economics and physics.
Musk became a multimillionare after he sold his start-up company, Zip2, in 1999. He founded SpaceX in 2002. In 2012, SpaceX launched the first commercial spacecraft. Since then, the company has sent numerous successful unmanned missions to the International Space Station (ISS). The SpaceX missions marked the first occasions when a company—instead of a government—made a delivery to the ISS. The company has plans to carry two astronauts there in late 2017.
Musk has set his sights on more than just the stars. He is aiming to transform life on Earth. One of his highest-profile successes is Tesla Motors, which he founded in 2004. Tesla designs and manufactures sleek, high-performance electric cars. The cars are expensive now, but Musk’s goal is to find a way to produce electric vehicles that are affordable to more people.
Musk is also pursuing another ambitious transportation idea: a high-speed mode of travel called the Hyperloop. The plan is for passengers to board aluminum pods that would be shot through steel tubes at about 800 miles per hour. The 380-mile trip from Los Angeles, California, to San Francisco, California, would take about 35 minutes. The project will cost $6 billion.
Don’t expect Musk to stop dreaming big anytime soon. In November, he introduced a new kind of solar paneling for roofs that will be cheaper than traditional roofing material. It will allow homeowners to collect energy from the sun. “I believe in working super hard and not giving up,” Musk told TIME. “As long as I can see a path to success, I’ll keep going.”
For making it his life’s mission to shape the future and change our world for the better, Elon Musk is a nominee for TFK’s 2016 Person of the Year.
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