Elon Musk is trying to redefine transportation on earth and in space. Through Tesla Motors –of which he is cofounder, CEO and Chairman — he is aiming to bring fully-electric vehicles to the mass market; at SpaceX he launches satellites and is working to send humans to other planets.
It has been a meteoric rise for Musk, as both companies he helped found and still runs have skyrocketed in value and catapulted Musk into the national spotlight. But it hasn’t been all smooth sailing. After a string of successful missions, a SpaceX rocket caught fire during fueling in September 2016, sending the company into a four-month launch hiatus while it worked out what went wrong. SpaceX resumed launches in January 2017, when it sent ten commercial satellites into orbit. Plus in May 2016 a Tesla vehicle that was on autopilot crashed into a tractor trailer, killing the Tesla driver and drawing Musk into a public spat over the safety of his vehicles.
Still, the company won shareholder approval to acquire SolarCity, a solar panel designer and installer run by Musk’s cousin, Lyndon Rive, in November 2016. The South African-born Musk immigrated to Canada at age 17 and then to the U.S. as a transfer student to the University of Pennsylvania. He made his first fortune as a cofounder of PayPal.