Monday, 9 June 2014

How often do you look at stars in the sky?

I am from the city. I considered myself lucky to have an open field next to my house when I was a kid.

It was quite a treat whenever I had the chance to run across the field towards the edge, feeling the breeze and touching the tip of the grass as I went. A taste of freedom.

My favourite activity above all, was to climb onto the car roof, lay myself down facing the star-ry sky, counting stars. My fascination towards the outer space grew.

Those were some of the moments in my childhood that I treasured the most. This ‘rendezvous’ with the night sky and the stars lasted for a few years.

The open field was later developed into several new block of terraces. A green patch of land once housed an ecosystem of its own has since disrupted and replaced. Many years later, subject about space and galaxy continue to intrigue me.

Several years ago, when I read about a serial entrepreneur, Elon Musk’s vision for SpaceX, I was mesmerised. SpaceX is a private company that designs, manufactures and launches advanced rockets and spacecraft, with the ultimate goal of enabling people to live on other planets.

“The goal of SpaceX is to revolutionise space travel. The long-term goal is to establish Mars as a self-sustaining civilisation as well as to just kind of have a more exciting future,” he explained in a recorded interview, recently.

That is not something you hear every day - and it was not just talk. After establishing SpaceX in 2002, the venture went through a phase of hitting rock bottom after three failed rocket launches in 2008, launching the fourth was seemingly impossible at that point of time. His other venture which targets the electric vehicle industry, Tesla Motors was in troubled waters too. Both ventures were widely assumed to be destined to fail.

Miraculously, with exceptional dedication and unwavering belief, his companies pulled through un-der his lead. I am sure it was not an easy feat for Musk and his team because in the private sector there were no proven successes at the time when they were first established.

Today, Tesla Motors is traded at NASDAQ at USD208.17 at a market cap of USD25.83 billion. At one point, Tesla Motor’s share price hit a 52-week high at USD265.00; SpaceX, on the other hand, unveiled Dragon V2 a reusable space capsule on May 29, as an entry into NASA's commercial crew competition.

Elon Musk is a self-made billionaire. He made his first millions in 1999 when Compaq bought Zip2, a ‘dot-com’ media company Musk founded with his brother that was sold for USD307 million when he was just 27. The deal earned him USD22 million. In the following year, he co-founded and later sold PayPal to eBay at USD1.5billion in 2002.

In 2011, SpaceX became the first private company to launch a spacecraft into orbit and have it re-turn intact. A new private race to the space has definitely been set into motion.

At the intersection of technology, business and sustainability, Elon Musk is a visionary and highly admirable individual that many including myself others look up to.

How often do you look up at the stars in the sky and wonder if our civilisation will sustain through space and time? If you are like me, perhaps you’ll enjoy watching this 21 minutes TED Talks with Elon Musk.

- Astro Awani, by Cherish Leow

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