Everyday astronaut - discussing SpaceX and its founder

A bit off-topic perhaps, but I found it an informational read.


Sure I agree although I do find some things related to space exploration interesting.
But at least Elon not only tried, but finally accomplished in less than 15 years, that waste and costs can be significantly reduced by having most of the 1st stages landing save for recycling and reuse.
Something NASA couldn’t achieve within several decades as planned. He’s trying his best and often also succeeds.


You have activated my pet peeve! Screed incoming.

Musk has succeeded in nothing apart from being rich. The man has never worked an honest day in his life, having done absolutely nothing beside buy corporations and watch the profit roll in. Even his start capital came from selling emeralds from his South African parents’ apartheid era mines.

His wealth has led to two inaccurate but common perceptions: that he is intelligent, and that he has worked for his money. Maybe some of the corporations he bought with his unearned money do cool stuff, but it is an error to attribute any of it to this hedge fund failson who fucks around on Twitter all day, just because he has a fat wallet and a big mouth.

So if you have positive things to say about the corporations that Elon Musk has attached himself to like a hagfish, attribute them to the workers rather than to the guy who has a piece of paper in a safe that says he owns their labour. Praise the amazing people doing the work for the wonders they have made, rather than the aristocrat who claims he invented everything they built.

SpaceX has made great contributions to space travel, in cooperation with and with funding from several international aeronautic organisations. It is a beautiful example of how international cooperation can lead to great strides in science and technology, and it is a shame that Musk must not only profit off the endeavour, but also attach his massive ego to it.


The book The PayPal Mafia describes how ridiculous Musk behaved when X.com acquired Confinity. He wanted to ditch the (much stronger) PayPal brand for X.com, and wanted to convert the entire company from Linux to Windows NT (Confinity was a Linux shop, X.com a Windows NT shop). Kinda funny he ended up stepping down.

His spat with the Thailand diver incident was the nail in the coffin for the respect I had for him.

PayPal was an interesting company at the very start, before it was acquired by eBay. Also, Tesla has achieved what GM has not with EV1.

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That photograph has poisoned my sanity, thanks very much. It’s one thing to be called the PayPal mafia, but to then have that picture taken… a man would have to put his soul at hazard.

I am somehow not surprised. Stupid is as stupid does.

Apparently, he’s also been spreading misinformation about the COVID-19 epidemic by smugly misinterpreting data visualisations on Twitter.

My bad, the book is called The PayPal Wars (but the typical picture does have the name The PayPal Mafia). It is a great book giving a culinary insight in the recipe of the startup during the dotcom hype. Another book I can recommend is Bad Blood: Secrets and Lies in a Silicon Valley Startup. It is about a startup called Theranos, and the CEO Elizabeth Holmes. You might’ve heard of either. Also interesting, given the hype around Magic Leap (doomed to fail). Here’s my Goodreads recommended list. (Yes Goodreads is sadly owned by Amazon, I know.)

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I wholeheartedly agree, that Elon Musk - from what I read - might be a sociopath, a madman and not a nice person to be around. He might spread misinformation and his twitter behaviour is far from “nice” (just remeber the rescue-diver in Thailand).

But - in my opinion - he still deserves some credit for the work the companies are doing.
Without an Elon Musk a company like Tesla would be out of business right now (my guess at least). May the workers, engineers and designers do the work and get the praise for doing this work. That work is absolutely nullified, if there is noone willing to invest in their labour. And that is where a crazy guy like Mr. Musk comes in, as he - so far - always has managed to get that money rolling in.

While he might not do the work, he still has the visions and obviously the means to drive other people. Maybe his conviction regarding the things he does is an important part of this. E.g. that he linked his Tesla-payment to the value (measured by the stock-exchange) of the Tesla-company. And that massive ego for sure is another part, that keeps the companies going and the traders buying stock.

Of course he did not start from scratch, when it came to earning money. That - on the other hand - is the rule and not the exception. Simply because people being raised as rich kids can take risks much more lighthearted, since they don’t have to worry about possible failures.

In short:
Critcise Elon Musk for all his shortcomings, but leave credit where it duely belongs.
One must not like Elon Musk, but there were so many other companies, that came and went in the same markets; so there clearly has to be some reason to explain that the Musk companies still are in business. Find me another plausible reason than the guy with the massive ego.

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So Musk is rich; sure, I’ll give him credit for having money. But just because Musk had enough cash to buy successful companies, that doesn’t make him a genius or a visionary or even important.

What visions? What did he come up with? Again, he just bought companies that were already doing stuff and let them do what they’d been doing. He didn’t come up with rockets, or electric cars, or submarines, or tunnels. He takes ideas from others and presents them as his own. Whether that gets him investments or not is a separate discussion about the stupidity of market economies, but it sure doesn’t make him smart or innovative.

So not taking risks at all. So not doing anything remarkable, then. Having enough money to do whatever you want, because you’ll never run out because people keep investing in you because you’re rich and famous. Again, that gets him absolutely zero credit from me.

Massive, massive subsidies that keep them liquid. Tesla and SpaceX are both not profitable enterprises, they are kept afloat by outside investments and a cult of personality.

Again, it is impossible to give Elon Musk credit for anything other than being rich and famous. Prove me wrong. He has innovated nothing, built nothing. He’s Donald Trump but with rockets and cars instead of casinos and steaks.

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Okay, it seems you have made up your mind and it will be hard to change that, because - as I understand it - everything is on the market, stupidity and everyone else. Musk is just a spoilt rotten brat, good for nothing.

So be it.

Just for my fun, I still reply to some of your statements:

That’s just a means of perspective. Like kids not having problems, because it’s just a lost toy.

  • Especially Tesla is investing lots of money in factories and expansion. As that is costing lots of money, it generates loss. It is taking risks, but also showing conviction, which might be part of the cult of personality.
  • So, you do agree to me, that it’s the personality, that is making the difference. Or why would all thos subsidies keep Tesla and SpaceX afloat, while they don’t do so with other companies?

Since when was Tesla a successful company? According to wikipedia (I know, it’s a weak source, but the one available on short notice) he was responsible for 98% of the funding, when Tesla was founded in 2003.

Even if that would be true, he still kept those ideas of electirc cars and space travel alive and made them a possibility; be it only be providing money of a giant ego to make others invest.

Maybe e.g. the vision, that a company selling electric-cars can be successful; and that this company also produces the batteries and establishes the infrastructure for their cars as well.
Keeping this concept alive, believing in it’s success and collecting and spending lots of money on it, in my opinion, counts for a vision.

While I don’t exactly like Elon Musk, I believe, that electric cars wouldn’t be where they are todoy without him. And the same goes for space-travel.
So, it’s not exactly neccessary to be the first one to have an idea; if you are the one turning it into a success, you still deserve credit for this accomplishment.

And that’s it from me, as we already are very much off-topic.


@BertG Again, I agree to most of your statements.

Generally spoken.

Who’s perfect?

At first I somehow could not get rid of certain images of other company “founders” like M$ or "Amazon"as while reading through other replies after my last. My thoughts were rather linked to them instead to Elon…for what reasons could this be… :thinking:

What Elon does specifically is not necessarily “inventing” but getting things put into action or reality. That’s my favored attribute I simply value about him! Not doing the usual boring bla, bla, too expensive, won’t work, impossible, utopic, not needed. He’s mostly naming it - doing it. (getting it done by staff or people keeping the knowledge), period. Of course not overnight, hell. His name is Musk not Bezos…and I’m glad about this :wink:
Electric cars were invented before ICE cars, but due to lack of strong mobile power sources at that time, the polluting type burning gasoline was promoted…since >130 years now!

He started and put focus on this fact in about 2000 and got a “Lotus” like roadster on the road to proof, mobility with cars meanwhile can also be done purely electric driven.
I did not say he constructed the electric car or similar (yes - again he invested money in something - just as most Arabian oil sheiks does :thinking:)…, but he managed to get the boulder rolling and growing thereby. Now there is the S, X and Model 3 ready for purchase! Within stupid 15 years!! (let alone nearly having to struggle out of bankruptcy at some point)
Let’s see…I grew up in Germany and afaik we have the most large car manufacturers located in this country. What do they have…ICE cars, meanwhile optional with frodulent diesel software.
Pure electric cars? - crap, crap, no chance to even get close to what Tesla can offer. Let alone the price and also stupid wannabe pseudo names like “Tesla killer” :rofl: After >130 years experience? That’s a bloody shame. Maybe because of the common rule - profit comes first.

Most companies founded or ran by Elon belong to the fastest growing companies…how this - I think reinvesting is a central part of growth. Yes - for the clever out there, this goes off the profit margin, hence having to exploit staff…or wasn’t that Amazon… :thinking:

Solarcity…solar panels, solar roof tiles, powerwalls, independent power supply solutions. Most solar panel companies in Germany had to give up as they could not stand up against the Chinese competitors. I specifically like the idea of powerwalls. Tesla aquired Solarcity meanwhile…what for…maybe one likes lawsuits :wink:

SpaceX, yes many former NASA engineers are working for it. Having to overcome initial (financial) struggles it’s now the most significant space company. I truly respect the capability of landing 1st stages on drone ships and on land. Great achievement! (btw. it took Elon less than 15 years to get "the engineers/staff working for his company to make this work")*.
Ok, he’s not the only one cluttering space with hundreds of satellites, it looks like every one wants to have his own system here. That’s sad.

Hyperloop?..is being constructed and test competitions are going on. The idea is old, but was picked up again and gets support for development and competition, collaboration and more. Again Elon pumped money to people who were clever and capable to transform this thing into reality and perform tests for later real life conditions.

So finally I think his overall influence score is rather positive than negative.
There are surely much more (rich) personalities around on whom should rather shout than Elon.


Elon Musk is an innovator, not an inventor. An innovator takes a concept, and popularizes it for the general market. Elon Musk might’ve inventors employed, I suppose he does given patents etc.

PayPal is an example of an innovating company (rather, Confinity and X.com were, and survived as PayPal which was Confinity’s brand).

Tesla is another innovation. The time to market was also right (GM’s EV1 wasn’t, nor was Tesla Roadster but the price and target market was different).

On a sortof related note, I don’t trust Tesla’s software stack. I believe it is a ticking timebomb.


I really don’t think that Tesla’s mission (and anything else from Musk companies) have anything to do with reducing the ecological footprint or moving the world to a more sustainable lifestyle.
They are luxury products for annoyed rich people riding the environmental coolness. That’s all about it, more or less. And SpaceX fits into the same schema.

I will speak in favour of Elon for he’s not your typical “clever” guy, although he’s a tycoon, the modern kind. I think he has managed to fill that huge hole where Steve Jobs once resided. I have been following his oeuvre for quite some time now. It seems his ambition was always breaking the barriers, uh, especially gravity barrier.

His view of society is rather downbeat but not unrealistic, every civilisation is bound to collapse sooner or later and a 7+ billion world population collapse is unprecedented. And yet there is an alternative, our planet as beautiful and as terrifying as it is, might be just a springboard for the species, the hypothesis is “we do not have to end here”.

Now for the criticism, if the tree is rotten will the apple fall far from the tree? Which direction should we run, should we run? Elon thinks that technology can no longer be stopped, so like a runaway train it has to be guided rather than resisted, or the worst scenario - ignored altogether.

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