Elon Musk has outrageous dreams. The PayPal co-founder and serial technology entrepreneur was interviewed in Austin, Texas, today at a packed SXSW Interactive keynote session by former longtime Wired magazine editor-in-chief Chris Anderson, who described Musk’s life as "insane." To which Musk replied matter-of-factly, "my life is very busy."
That might be an understatement. Musk's resume speaks for itself.
In 2002, Musk founded Space Exploration Technologies ( SpaceX ), where he is CTO and CEO. SpaceX is a Hawthorne, Calif.-based private space transportation company with the goal of a manned mission to Mars within Musk’s lifetime. Musk said he aspires to set foot on Mars and not die on impact.
A year later Musk co-founded Tesla Motors in Palo Alto, Calif., where he serves as chief of product design. Long believing that all earth-bound transportation will become fully electric, Tesla Motors manufactures and sells electric cars. Additionally, Musk serves as chairman for a San Mateo, Calif.-based company called SolarCity. Based on a concept originally hatched by Musk, SolarCity was founded in 2006 by brothers Peter and Lyndon Rive and is provider of solar power systems to the U.S.
Each of these companies were created because of Musk’s desire to make a difference for the planet -- through cleaner energy and the pursuit of exploration. For SpaceX and Tesla, he invested his revenue from PayPal even though he said he thought both ventures would fail. He called it "disruptive change."
Here, we collected the updates Musk shared about his goals and the recent progress his three companies have made:
Space X: Create reusable rockets.
Working with NASA, an unmanned SpaceX craft called Dragon reached the International Space station a week ago to deliver supplies. The challenge for Musk and SpaceX, he said, is finding a way to create reusable rockets.
When a spacecraft is launched into orbit, the rockets jettison and are not retrieved. During the keynote, Musk revealed a video of a prototype rocket that, once detached from the spacecraft, could re-enter Earth’s atmosphere and land vertically like a helicopter.
Musk revealed that he’ll be meeting with Texas legislators while in Austin to discuss the building of a third SpaceX launch site. As of now, SpaceX uses Cape Canaveral in Florida and Vandenberg Air Force Base in California. Musk said he was confident that an agreement could be reached, with a new launch site fully constructed by 2017.
Tesla Motors: Become profitable.
Musk said his main goal is to make Tesla a profitable company. On the technological side, Musk is actively seeking better designed lithium batteries that are smaller and more powerful.
Recently, the Tesla Model S -- a fully electric model sedan -- was the subject of a negative review in the New York Times. After the Times article was published, Musk published his own rebuttal, disputing the negative claims. Today, when asked if he would have handled the situation differently, he replied that he wouldn’t.
SolarCity: Continue to expand.
SolarCity is experimenting with more efficient ways to integrate solar panels into more types of buildings. A provider of residential solar power products and services, SolarCity designs and installs solar energy systems and performs energy efficiency audits. Musk described them as almost like "a second roof" on a house.