(ORDO NEWS) — SpaceX founder and CEO Elon Musk was named Man of the Year in 2021, the magazine reported on Monday (December 13).
“Person of the Year is a measure of influence, and few people have had a greater influence than Musk on life on Earth and possibly life beyond,” Time editor-in-chief Edward Felsenthal said in a statement. “In 2021, Musk has become not only the richest man in the world, but possibly the richest example of massive change in our society.”
This shift includes “the continuing decline of traditional institutions in favor of individuals; government dysfunction that has given businesses more power and responsibility; and the chasm of wealth and opportunity,” Felsenthal said.
Some notable achievements for Musk and SpaceX this year include the successful landing of the company’s prototype, the huge Starship Mars rocket during high-altitude flight tests; Crew rotation support on the International Space Station on the Crew Dragon and the Falcon 9 rocket; and the successful launch of four civilians into space with a charity fund known as Inspiration4 (supported by another billionaire, Jared Isaacman).
Musk is still making his dreams of interplanetary settlement come true with Starship, and is also formulating his goal of reaching the Red Planet as a solution to some of Earth’s problems, such as global warming. That position itself is controversial among some, Vox said, but Musk has been focused on Mars since SpaceX was founded almost 20 years ago.
“The overall goal was to make life multi-planetary and allow humanity to become a cosmic civilization,” Musk told Time in an interview. “The next really important thing is to build a self-sufficient city on Mars and bring animals and creatures from Earth there, sort of like a futuristic Noah’s ark. Although we will take more than two with us, it will be a little strange if there are only two.”
Musk’s interview with Time also cites some suggested milestones for his various long-term space missions, including circling the moon, “possibly as early as 2023.” He also said he would “be surprised” if SpaceX does not land a man on Mars in five years, and further clarified on recent reports that SpaceX could go bankrupt due to the crisis in the production of its new Raptor engine for Starship.
“The worst situation … bankruptcy is out of the question, unlikely,” Musk told Time. “We cannot lose our advantage or calm down.”
Musk’s choice as the person of the year will not be universally appreciated. The billionaire entrepreneur has been criticized for actions such as reopening Tesla’s factory (Musk is also the CEO of Tesla) during the pandemic and rude comments about the man who helped rescue a group of boys trapped in a cave while Musk’s proposed solution to the submarine was canceled.
The mega-constellation of SpaceX’s Starlink satellites, expanding internet access in rural areas, has also been criticized for interfering with astronomical observations due to the number and brightness of spacecraft.
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