BEACON TRANSCRIPT – If you thought you had a great week, wait until you hear how Elon Musk’s went down. The multi-billionaire responsible for Tesla Motors, PayPal, Solar City and SpaceX has finally signed a deal with NASA.
Besides being invited to make a guest appearance on The Big Bang Theory – one of the highest rated TV sitcoms – Musk saw his space transport services company SpaceX become the first private aerospace manufacturer to get in business with NASA.
Elon Musk is notoriously a less-than-friendly figure, but guest starring in the Thanksgiving episode of the sitcom gave him a chance to show a warmer side of the self-made businessman. But this accomplishment faded in the shade of the key NASA contract that allows SpaceX to ship astronauts to and from the International Space Station (ISS).
According to NASA’s announcement on Friday, Musk’s company was awarded four missions to carry astronauts, in addition to some more missions awarded to Boeing. Even though the announcement was somewhat expected, it showed last year’s disastrous rocket crash did not cancel the deal.
After retiring the Space Shuttles four years ago, NASA relied on the Russian Federal Space Agency for the transportation of personnel to and from the ISS; not only NASA, but also the other 16 nations involved in space programs.
But the seat the Russians provided did not come at a low price. The SpaceX and Boeing spacecraft are more than welcomed to start their flights, given that the seats on Russia’s Soyuz rockets cost not less than $82 million each. However, the Russians still have monopoly on the situation for two more years.
Considering the gradually deteriorating international relations with Vladimir Putin’s government, these two years – during which NASA will pay Russia roughly half a billion dollars – will not be easy for the U.S.
Until then, Musk’s legendary drive is reflected in the SpaceX’s tenacity to become an important player in the American space program. The company will serve both in the military department, as well as in ISS flights. The South African-born entrepreneur’s stern ambition was, however, dialed down a bit during his Big Bang Theory apparition.
Musk appears as a humbler version on himself, meeting with Howard Wolowitz (played by Simon Helberg), an engineer and one-time astronaut. They cross paths while they’re both volunteering at a homeless shelter, allowing Elon Musk to show off his softer side, which we don’t get to see all that often.
Image Source: CBS Static