Photo Credit: SpaceX [Jonathan Hofeller]: ‘Faiyetole’.
Just as we set out of the Mountain View’s NASA Ames Research Center 583C Building on July 27 on our way to Los Angeles for a tour visit of SpaceX, three concepts remained imminent on my mind — though Heather Diane Smith had kindly offered me her car for the trip, I could not but think about the sleek, electric-clean energy Tesla S-model and how possibly the road journey from San Francisco to LA could be shortened from 7 hours to 30 minutes as earlier muted in the Hyperloop idea, and of course, the company we were visiting, SpaceX! These show that transportation matters: automobiles, rail (tubes) and rockets; more so, it’s all about the phenomenon himself.
Elon Musk holds the magic wand to these three revolutionary concepts: Tesla Motors, SpaceX and Hyperloop, and much more. The indefatigable genius seems to know the secret codes of Exponential Technologies, anything high-tech in a way that marvels everyone. A select few of about 10 percent of an intently interested Singularity University’s GSP-13 class were on our way to the revolutionary SpaceX headquarters with an impending privilege to see its back-end. These many, and more are pure fans. In fact, everybody loves SpaceX and Elon Musk, the phenomenon.
The ten-SU SpaceX crew and the remaining class had spent the past five weeks studying and debating on Exponential Technologies and how it has and may be used to impact humanity in a large number — we usually consider an impact factor of a billion of people in the next 10 years. This cause is championed by the visionary Ray Kurzweil and legendary Peter Diamandis, the two cofounders of this fast-pace, Moore’s law respondent and prestigious university.
The ladies in our car took the driver’s seat in turns (one of them would soon co-found a women leadership and entrepreneurship organization!) while Anish Mohammed, the one I call IoT — Internet of things — “edutained” us from his reservoir of knowledge on science and technology. Discussions ranged from quantum computing and computer security to robotics and space technology. The research work of Prof. Dirk Englund and his team at the Quantum Photonic Laboratory, MIT readily came to mind as it promises among others to disrupt computing information security.
And we were suddenly arriving LA, navigating to SpaceX, 1 Rocket Road, Hawthorne – descending, we soon saw a Tesla Motors’ office and no one could hide their emotions especially since the same man behind all these promised to unveil another revolutionary concept, Hyperloop on August 12, barely two weeks from then.
SpaceX here we come! A modest company with touch of ingenuity and excellence. The first private company to launch a rocket into orbit. Soon to go to Mars. Just a few days before this time, there was a technology demonstration of “Grasshopper.” SpaceX is committed to ushering in fully re-usability of rockets, driving towards making space affordable and more economically viable. And the man is devoted to making humans multiplanetary beings, able to live well on Earth and not just adapt to living on other planets like the Mars.
Afshin Khan, a “Martian,” described the visit to SpaceX as being inspirational and reassuring towards her dream to help make human life possible on Mars someday. The astrobiologist and biotechnologist at Washington State University confessed, “I truly appreciated the vision portrayed by the wall art in front of Elon Musk’s office, the Red Mars transformed to a Green Mars!” Undoubtedly, a daunting vision to accomplish. Solving the transportation problem to Mars as being championed by Elon’s SpaceX would have solved a big chunk of the riddle, therefore working towards terraforming the planet is a worthy venture. So inspiring, Afshin is thinking rigorously and working hard towards being able to make her contributions in that sphere. In the end, humanity would have developed into multiplanetary beings. This is a future that I love to see. A future worthy of all of our efforts, solving bits of the puzzle, bit by bit.
Mr. Musk’s almost an expert in all that he does. And obviously, his background in physics and economics prepared him well for this life of empirical investigation and development, and concerns about democratization and demonetization — twin-like things that were never really twin-like in the real world. And our concept of “scientific but people-oriented education” (multidisciplinary and multicultural education tailored toward advancing space) at EarthSpace Educational System seems agreeable with Mr. Musk’s background, and if adopted by the generality of the world we may be consciously developing more “Elon Musks” capable of solving humanity’s grand challenges.
Elon Musk can simply be described as the man with the Midas touch for transportation, with terrific electric vehicles, sustainable rocketry and the revolutionizing hyperloop design under his belt. When electric vehicles were written off as unattractive and inefficient, Tesla broke all myths of the market and emerged as the coolest kid on the block. They say it takes a lot to be a rocket scientist but, Elon once again made it look like a walk in the park with his reusable rocket designs and incomparable prices of making rockets that even China cannot compete with. The world and especially NASA has much to be thankful for. Quite recently, in an event that may well go down in history as “Elon strikes again” the radical theoretical design of a high-speed land transportation popularly known as “hyperloop” were made publicly available to attract collaborators and independent groups to study its technological and economic feasibility. Well, for now, all one can speculate is that when it happens, it will surely change the way we travel and in signature Elon style, make it better, cheaper, efficient and stylish.
The trip to the rocketry station at 1 Rocket Road with the interminable thoughts of yet another terrific transportation concept of Hyperloop and the groundbreaking feelings of the electric car Tesla was indeed refreshing.
Exponential Ad Astra!
This blog first appeared on The Huffington Post on 22 October 2013.