The creator of Tesla and Space X, incidentally the richest man in the world, is the subject of a portrait on RMC Découverte this Monday at 9:05 p.m.
Alexander the Great and Genghis Kahn would no doubt have envied him. Because Elon Musk, the richest man in the world with a fortune estimated at 300 billion dollars, the equivalent of the GDP of Finland, represents this generation of all-powerful, megalomaniac entrepreneurs, like Jeff Bezos – boss of Amazon – become emperors with almost more powers than a head of state, who have tamed technologies and want to shape the world, shape it in the future according to their own conception of life. For Elon Musk, there is no doubt that humanity must very soon be exported to Mars and he sees himself as the leader of this exodus. This is what emerges implicitly from this portrait. Dominated by his financial power and his mastery of a technology that is always at the forefront, we can only bend, whether we like it or not, to his decisions, to the directions he intends to give to the world. In short, a great boundless helmsman like Mao Tse-tung would never have dared to dream of himself.
A trillion dollar business
The documentary From Tesla to SpaceX: the world according to Elon Musk begins with the rapid rise of a geek born in 1971 in Pretoria (South Africa), suffering from Asperger’s syndrome, and who earned his first dollars by creating and selling a video game when he was 12 years old. We pass very quickly over his childhood to arrive in 2002, the date on which Elon Musk became a multimillionaire after reselling PayPal, the online payment system. Because thanks to this, he will be able to finance his real desires and give free rein to his creativity. The one who was rocked during his childhood by Star Wars, Star Trek and all science fiction in the cinema, will found, at 30, his international transport company SpaceX and shake up the industry. Nobody believes in him and industrialists take him for a utopian. But, after three unsuccessful launches of his reusable Falcon rocket, and on the verge of bankruptcy as he spends $10,000 a day, the fourth test is a success. He signs a 1.6 billion dollar contract with NASA to supply the international space station under the nose and beard of his competitors. Its design of the rocket of the future is well ahead of other launcher manufacturers, dividing manufacturing costs by five.
A 930 km² factory
Using testimonials and archive footage, the documentary gradually draws the personality of Elon Musk. But it is regrettable that the film does not insist on the facetious character of the billionaire and on his tweets, which agitate the world of finance and social networks, and which are denied soon after, such as, for example, the takeover of the Manchester club United. The angle chosen does not present him as a capricious tycoon who gives in to his desires. On the contrary, when he creates or buys a company, he develops and earns money. Like a modern Midas, everything he touches turns to gold. Thus, after financing Martin Eberhard and Marc Tarpenning, the two founders of the Tesla automobile brand, he took control of the company. Today, the company is worth $1 trillion and the Tesla 3 is the best-selling car in the world. His business acumen made him create the “gigas factories”, gigantic factories that allow him to rationalize costs. The latest, in Austin, Texas, covers an area of 930 km². We are talking about factory 4.0. Five are already distributed around the world and Musk plans twelve in total, to be closer to its customers.
Starlink and its 40,000 satellites
Nothing seems to stop him. Annoyed by traffic jams, he tweeted in 2013 to announce that he was going to found a tunnel construction company. No sooner said than done. He creates The Boring Company and begins with Las Vegas, where he drills a 4 km tunnel under the largest conference center in the world. Users take an escalator and arrive at a kind of station, where drivers take them to different places in the complex, aboard Tesla 3. He digs faster and cheaper than any contractor. In the future, these tunnels will also be used to embark freight, fiber optic cables, and to pass pedestrians and cyclists to avoid surface traffic.
The adventure continues in 2015 with the creation of Starlink. Estimated revenues: $25 billion per year. The goal: to have access to the Internet anywhere in the world without dead zones, thanks to a network of satellites positioned at an altitude of 60 km and therefore lower than traditional geostationary satellites. 12,000 satellites that continuously relay signals should be operational by 2025. Elon Musk plans 40,000 in total. A mind-blowing project when the Earth is already surrounded by thousands of objects in orbit…
The hyperloop, a magnetic levitation train, capable of traveling 1000 km, is also a project that Elon Musk relaunched in 2013, and on which several companies are working, including two in France. If it still seems to belong to science fiction, nothing says that Elon Musk will not achieve his ends. As one documentary pundit testifies, for Musk, anything in science fiction is doable. Why not ? The boss of SpaceX has made Jules Verne’s dream come true by creating reusable rockets…