Starting SpaceX

SpaceX was initially started while Elon was still formally (but not day-to-day) working at PayPal, back in 2001.

He had called Jim Cantrell, an aerospace consultant in Arizona, saying he was an "Internet Billionaire" and wanted to meet. He and Jim (and Adeo Ressi at the beginning) went to Russia 3 times to try and buy a refurbished ICBM, without the nukclear weapon of course.

Though he won't say this, his goal was probably to study/disassemble the russian technology, and then rebuild it with modern day improvements. Then he'd just use the ICBM to launch a small mission to Mars, to gain publicity (Elon claims it was going to be a purely charitable mission to increase NASA's budget, and no doubt, it was a good cause, but I doubt his "purely" charitable motivations. Highly doubt he'd spend $60M on this without any ROI, at that point, when he was really worth only $120M or so).

He then got screwed by the Russian guys, and decided to recruit a bunch of Northrop/Boeing/Lockheed engineers, and most importantly, TRW, and used the Socratic method to get them to agree that signicant improvements in rocket technology were possible, just by using existing technology (but which hadn't flown in space.) So wasn't all that magical, just risky to get everything working together properly using only the funds he had.


  1. Hi,

    I have a lot appreciation for Elon. I think he is a man with great vision for humanity.


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