Skip to main content
Opinion

SpaceX founder Elon Musk is the entrepreneur of his generation

May 10, 2023

Share

In April, SpaceX, the spacecraft manufacturer founded by Elon Musk, launched a gigantic rocket that exploded roughly four minutes into its flight. Despite the abrupt ending, Musk categorized the launch as a “success,” saying, “We learned a lot.” The Starship rocket, currently grounded by the FAA, is key to Musk’s goal of getting humans to Mars.

Straight Arrow News contributor Newt Gingrich is impressed by Musk’s ambition and considers him the entrepreneur of his generation.

You know, great entrepreneurship doesn’t always start out being successful. It starts out with a big vision, a lot of courage, really hard work, and a willingness to learn.

If you go back and you watch Henry Ford, for example, from the time he built his first racing car, to the time he perfected mass production, in both the Model T and then the Model A, there were lots of innovations, there were lots of experiments. There were a lot of things that didn’t quite work. Thomas Edison once said that there were 49,000 experiments to get the electric light bulb [right]. And then at one point, one of his staff said to him, “You realize we’ve failed 37,000 times?” And he said, “No, we have successfully eliminated 37,000 possibilities.

Now, that willingness to experiment, to learn from your mistakes, and to keep trying, in our generation, may be personified as much as anything by the kinds of things we just saw with SpaceX. 

Elon Musk created a company of enormous capability. He became the first person to invent a rocket which could launch, go to orbit, come back, and be recovered. Nowadays, the Falcon 9 rocket is, in fact, the most successful carrier of satellites into space. And SpaceX by itself launches more satellites than all of Communist China.

He now is working on his real dream. And in his mind, as successful as Falcon 9 has been, that was a stepping stone; it was the beginning of learning. So he’s now put together 36 rocket engines into what they call the Starship. And they call it the Starship because it’s designed not to take something into orbit — it’s designed to go first to the moon and then to Mars. Now, they just tried their first big Starship launch and it was terrific for a couple of minutes and then it blew up. 

Musk wasn’t bothered by it. As a true entrepreneur, he had said before the launch, “You know, there are at least a million ways this thing can fail.” And he said after the launch, “This will give us a lot of data by which we can learn.

You know, great entrepreneurship doesn’t always start out being successful. It starts out with a big vision, a lot of courage, really hard work, and a willingness to learn.

 

If you go back and you watch Henry Ford, for example, from the time he built his first racing car, to the time he perfected mass production, and both the Model T and then the Model A, there were lots of innovations, there were lots of experiments. There were a lot of things that didn’t quite work. Thomas Edison once said that there were 49,000 experiments to get the electric light. And then at one point, one of his staff said to him, you realize we’ve failed 37,000 times and he said, no, we have successfully eliminated 37,000 possibilities. 

 

Now, that willingness to experiment, to learn from your mistakes, and to keep trying, in our generation, may be personified as much as anything by the kinds of things we just saw with SpaceX. 

 

Elon Musk created a company of enormous capability. He became the first person to invent a rocket which could launched, go to orbit, come back, and be recovered. Nowadays, the Falcon 9 rocket is, in fact, the most successful carrier of satellites into space. And SpaceX by itself launches more satellites than all of Communist China. He now is working on his real dream. And in his mind, as successful as Falcon 9 has been, that was a stepping stone, it was the beginning of learning. So he’s now put the other 36 rocket engines into what they call the Starship. And they call it the Starship, because it’s designed not to take something into orbit. It’s designed to go first to the moon and then to Mars. Now, they just tried their first big Starship launch. And it was terrific for a couple of minutes and then it blew up. 

 

Musk wasn’t bothered by it, as a true entrepreneur, he had said before the launch, you know, there are at least a million ways this thing can fail. And he said after launch, this will give us a lot of data by which we can learn. The same thing, by the way, had happened with Falcon 9 which blew up several times. And when they were first starting to build it, and they would sit down, they would examine what went wrong, try to figure out the answers, go back and try it again. 

 

In another month or so, they’ll be launching and they’ve designed a Starship factory, which is planning, ultimately, to produce a Starship every three days. Now think about that. A gigantic rocket capable of going to the moon and capable of extended reach going to Mars. Every three days means you’re gonna get something like 120 rockets a year. Nobody’s ever dreamed of doing this. Boeing worked with NASA on what they call the Space Launch System. They’ve built one. They’ve launched it, iit did work, thankfully, because it costs billions and billions of dollars. But it’s gonna take them another year and a half to build the second one. Meanwhile, Elon is going to be dramatically out-producing them. He represents a totally new world of thought about how you get into space. He is literally being Henry Ford. He’s going to mass produce huge rockets that can both get us to the moon, get us to Mars, and carry huge quantities up into Earth orbit and ultimately, I suspect, create a genuine tourism industry on a scale you can’t even imagine today. So entrepreneurship is big dreams, hard work, and a willingness to learn. And Elon Musk personifies it as much as anybody for our generation

Video Library

Latest Commentary

We know it is important to hear from a diverse range of observers on the complex topics we face and believe our commentary partners will help you reach your own conclusions.

The commentaries published in this section are solely those of the contributors and do not reflect the views of Straight Arrow News.


Latest Opinions

In addition to the facts, we believe it’s vital to hear perspectives from all sides of the political spectrum. We hope these different voices will help you reach your own conclusions.

The opinions published in this section are solely those of the contributors and do not reflect the views of Straight Arrow News.

Weekly Voices

Left Opinion Right Opinion

Monday

Left Opinion Right Opinion

Tuesday

Left Opinion Right Opinion

Wednesday

Left Opinion Right Opinion

Thursday

Left Opinion Right Opinion

Friday

Left Opinion Right Opinion