Elon Musk, founder, CEO and CTO of SpaceX, co-founder, CEO and Product Architect of Tesla, co-founder and Chairman of Solar City, co-founder of Open AI – a non-profit Artificial Intelligence research company, an estimated net worth of $11.5 billion as of June 2016, ranked 21 on Forbes list of The World’s Most Powerful People in December 2016, is after all human, and the child in him was evident in a recently released video by National Geographic capturing his reaction to the successful launch and landing of Falcon 9 rocket in Cape Canaveral, Florida on December 21, 2015.
The momentous event including the launch and the ultimately safe and upright landing back on the launch pad in Cape Canaveral and the post landing jubilation of SpaceX employees were witnessed live via YouTube streaming broadcast.
However, what one did not get to see then, was the reaction of Elon Musk which was captured on video by a crew following him during the launch and return; the video, however, was recently released by National Geographic.
In the Nat Geo clip, soon after the countdown and the successful launch, Elon Musk says, “It’s good baby” and is seen running out of the command center into the open to watch Falcon 9 rocket blazing up into the night sky.
“Come on” he urges looking up with folded hands and looks even more tensed before the landing, continuing to look up with hands still folded. At one point, probably expecting the worst, he says, “Oh, where is it? This is bad. It’s actually bad.” The video clearly captures his grimacing, heavy breathing, looking up then, apparently, looking back at someone.
Then suddenly the sonic boom on re-entry of Falcon 9 into the earth’s atmosphere is heard and finally the near-perfect, if not the perfect, landing of the craft on the launch pad is witnessed by an elated Musk and cheering SpaceX employees.
The child in Elon Musk suddenly explodes as soon as Falcon 9 lands on the launch pad in an upright position. In his euphoria, he is seen running towards the command center calling out, “It’s standing up.”
On entering the command center he says to nobody in particular “when it started coming in it sounded like an explosion.” He then rushes to the monitor high-fiving his colleagues on the way.
On seeing the rocket on the monitor screen standing upright on the launch pad he releases his emotions, “What! Holy smokes man!” he says.
After the ecstatic childish reaction, he was back to his sober demeanour and this is what he had to say about the event:
“It’s kind of amazing that this window of opportunity is opened for life to go beyond earth and we just don’t know how long that window is going to be open. But the thing that gets me most fired up is that creating a self-sustaining civilization on Mars which would be the greatest adventure ever – ever in human history. It would be so exciting to wake up in the morning and think that, that’s what’s happening”.
The successful landing in December 2015 was the first for SpaceX after many failed attempts and since then SpaceX has successfully landed back many such rockets after successfully delivering their payloads into space.
The company, however, experienced a major setback, when in September 2016, one such SpaceX Falcon9 rocket exploded on its launch pad destroying the Israeli satellite it was expected to launch into orbit.
After the massive setback in September, SpaceX is in the process of investigating the cause of the explosion and trying to iron out the glitches that caused the explosion with the target of a January 2017 re-launch.
Elon Musk is a man on many missions with a clear vision of his goals. Setbacks like the one in September 2016 is not the first he has experienced, and may not be the last, but the visionary that he is will certainly not deter him from pushing on and realizing his dreams.