Elon Musk, CEO of Tesla Motors and SpaceX, has had his tough days; on Saturday, for example, an attempted launch of the company’s Falcon 9 rocket, the first commercially developed flight to attempt to connect with the International Space Station, never got off the ground; flight computers aborted it during the countdown.
But today definitely was a good day for Musk. A really good day.
Early this morning, SpaceX's Falcon 9 rocket carrying the unmanned Dragon capsule blasted off successfully; Dragon is due to rendezvous with the Space Station in a couple of days. A jubilant Musk tweeted “Falcon flew perfectly!! Dragon in orbit, comm locked, and solar arrays active!! Feels like a giant weight just came off my backJ”
And good news came out of Tesla Motors today as well, good for the company, as well as for buyers of the company's second model, the Model S sedan. Tesla announced on its corporate blog that manufacturing for the Model S is a few weeks ahead of schedule and delivery to customers will begin June 22. This announcement followed late yesterday's tweet by Musk, “Major Tesla milestone: All crash testing is complete for 5* (max) safety rating. Cars can now be built for sale to the public!!” The company also announced that the car’s regenerative braking, which feeds energy back to the battery and slows the car down, will be adjustable (some people find the resistance from regenerative braking disturbing, and would be willing to sacrifice range to avoid it).
Musk, interviewed yesterday by Spaceflight Now, an online publication, may be treated a bit like a tech pop star, but he still talks like the engineer that he is. Asked how he expected to feel today, he responded, “Either really happy or really sad. It's just one of those things that has a bimodal outcome.” Safe to say that today he’s feeling really happy.
Above: Video of today’s Falcon 9 launch from Cape Canaveral.
To hear Elon Musk talk about his career and his long term goal of making life multiplanetary, listen to my 2009 interview with Musk.
Musk-watchers can follow him on Twitter@elonmusk. You can follow me on Twitter@TeklaPerry.
Tekla S. Perry is a senior editor at IEEE Spectrum. Based in Palo Alto, Calif., she's been covering the people, companies, and technology that make Silicon Valley a special place for more than 40 years. An IEEE member, she holds a bachelor's degree in journalism from Michigan State University.