For a while now, space has been looking boring. News about space was reduced to budget cuts and deorbiting schedules, not research or innovation. Then the private sector began designing spaceships to send payloads and people into orbit and beyond. Today, teams like Elon Musk’s SpaceX are reopening space for exploration.
I know a thing or two about building spaceships, having started Virgin Galactic. It might seem that would make Elon and me competitors, but in some ways it’s just the opposite. We share the belief that when you want something, you have to go do it yourself — even if DIY in this case means plowing your personal fortune into industries so unwieldy, complex and unknowable that most people think they can be steered and owned only by government.
Whatever skeptics have said can’t be done, Elon has gone out and made real. Remember in the 1990s, when we would call strangers and give them our credit-card numbers? Elon dreamed up a little thing called PayPal. His Tesla Motors and SolarCity companies are making a clean, renewable-energy future a reality. It’s a paradox that Elon is working to improve our planet at the same time he’s building spacecraft to help us leave it. But true vision is binocular — and Elon Musk is clearly a man who can see many things at once.
Branson is the founder of Virgin Group
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