What's the Latest Development?

As the world's first privately-built space capsule hurtles toward the International Space Station, Elon Musk, whose company SpaceX is responsible for the feat, is the talk of the nation. After its successful launch, the Dragon capsule is scheduled to dock with the ISS this Friday carrying a modest cargo of "162 meal packets, a laptop computer, a change of clothes for the station astronauts and 15 student experiments." John Holdren, President Obama's assistant for science and technology, hailed the launch as especially thrilling because, he said, "it represents the potential of a new era in American spaceflight."

What's the Big Idea?

Born in South Africa to a Canadian mother, Musk took degrees in physics and economics at the U of Pennsylvania before dropping out of Stanford just two days into graduate school. His first project, a business to build websites for media companies, sold to Compaq in 1999. Musk would then start X.com, a precursor to PayPal, and sell the business to eBay. After the sale, Musk had $170 million to divide between his three main interests: SpaceX, which nearly bankrupt Musk after three rocket test failures; Tesla, creator of the world's first electric sports car; and SolarCity, a company that designs and installs solar energy systems. 

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