Tesla’s patents and inventions have been at the foundation of science, communication and transportation as we know it. His inventions where critical in the development of electricity, power networks, power plants, communications, wireless technology, medicine, laser technology and the list goes on. While Nikola Tesla had a brilliant inventors’ mind, some might argue that he lacked the business mindset. His vision would radically transform the whole world. Free energy generated by the Earth’s magnetic field converted to our use and all people being connected via wireless technology were glorious plans, however they didn’t seem like good business. It is not in the interest of a company to give energy or means of communication or transportation for free. This is one of the main reasons behind the opposition Tesla faced during his life, as his inventions would have ruined the energy, transportation or communication businesses. Tesla lived between 10th of July 1856 and 7th of January 1943 and died at the age of 86 years old.
Elon Musk was born on the 28th of June 1971, 28 years after the death of Nikola Tesla. He was born in Pretoria, South Africa to mother Maye, a model from Regina, Saskatchewan, Canada; and Errol Musk, a South African-born electromechanical engineer. His parents divorced when he was 10 years old and he remained with his father. Just before turning 18, he moved to Canada so he can live with his mother and received Canadian citizenship. He moved to the Kingston, Ontario in 1992 for his undergraduate study at Queen’s University. He transferred to University of Pennsylvania, where at age 24 he received his Bachelor of Science degree.
He moved to California and started his PhD at Stanford University, which he quit after a just couple of days so he can start his own businesses. Together with his brother, in 1995, they started Zip2.com. The company was sold and went public in 1999. In the same year Musk started x.com. One year later the company merged with Confinity, thus becoming PayPal. In 2002 PayPal was bought by eBay.com and Musk left with 165 million from that venture. He also became U.S. citizen in 2002.
In June 2002, he starts a new company, Space Exploration Technologies or SpaceX with a long-term goal of creating “a true space faring civilization”. He soon realized that the whole business of space travel and launching rockets was greatly overpriced. SpaceX came up with their own rocket project that cost ten times less to build and launch, and still have 70% gross margin. The initial investment of US$ 100 million was enough for the development, production and launch of four rockets. In September 2008, on their fourth and last try, SpaceX managed to put a payload into orbit. After three failed attempts, their rocket, Falcon 1 became the first privately funded liquid-fueled vehicle to put a satellite into Earth orbit. Soon enough they received an offer from NASA of US$ 1.6 billion, for 12 launch missions.
After building Falcon 1, SpaceX developed the Falcon 9 launch vehicle and Dragon spacecraft. In the past 10 years, SpaceX have become a regular NASA client, have had over 20 successful missions and have regular trips to the International Space Station. Nowadays, the company is working on a plan to colonize planet Mars. They are working on transportation devices and technology so it won’t be a one-way trip. They are also considering solutions to terraforming the planet so we may actually live there one day.
Tesla Motors was incorporated by Martin Eberhard and Marc Tarpenning in 2003. For funding, investments and further development of the company, Elon Musk joined in 2004, as chairman of the board of directors. In 2008, following the financial crisis, Musk took over the company as CEO and product architect. Between 2008 and 2012, Tesla Motors produced and sold 2,500 of Tesla Roadsters in 31 countries. The Roadster became the first highway-capable all-electric vehicle in serial production for sale in the United States. The 4-door sedan Tesla Model-S was delivered starting June 2012. The strategy was to first build a high-end car and use profits to invest in driving the cost down. In this way, within a few years, they could make a high-tech affordable low-end fully electric car. In developing the Model-S, Tesla collaborated with SpaceX scientist. This was useful especially in making the aerodynamic aluminum body of the car, which had the industry’s smallest drag coefficient yet. In order to improve the range limitations of electric cars, Tesla have started developing a network of charging stations – Tesla Supercharger stations- where you can charge your car for free. Tesla Motors are also working on their Gigafactory in Nevada, which is going to double the world production of Lithium-Ion batteries.
SolarCity is another company started by Musk and his two cousins in 2006. The company is the largest provider of solar panels in the U.S. The panels are made in Buffalo, NY, where they run the largest solar panel producing factory in the country.
Using knowledge from SolarCity and as Tesla Motors have been working on batteries extensively, in 2015 they launched a solar-powered battery that you can install in your home. The Tesla Powerwall serves mainly as a backup in case of power failures and it may also be an efficient way to cut down on electricity bills.
Nikola Tesla may have been a visionary, way ahead of his time. His most powerful and inspiring goals were to give free renewable energy to the world and a wireless network through which all people on the planet could communicate to one another.
A scenario where you can power up your home and charge your car without being dependant on any network of utilities providers seems to be closer than ever. With Elon Musk involved in automotive, aerospace, solar energy, energy storage, satellites and multi-planetary expansion, it seems that Nikola Tesla’s lifelong dreams are coming to completion. It seems that it won’t be long before we use renewable resources to live and travel freely.
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