U.S., China, Russia, Elon Musk: Entrepreneur's "insane" vision becomes reality

(CBS News) Only four entities have put a space capsule in orbit and brought it back: the United States, Russia, China -- and Elon Musk. It is Musk's company, SpaceX, that launched that capsule to the space station today.

Musk is a man who does things others say are impossible. "CBS Evening News" anchor Scott Pelley recently spoke to him for "60 Minutes."

"I think we're at the dawn of a new era. And I think it's going to be very exciting," Musk said. "What we're hoping to do with SpaceX is to push the envelope and provide a reason for people to be excited and inspired to be human."

Elon Musk is 40, and worth about $2 billion. As a teenager, he wrote computer games in his native South Africa before heading to the U.S. and starting PayPal. He built an electric car company called Tesla. But his passion is space.

60 Minutes: SpaceX: Entrepreneur's race to space
SpaceX rocket blasts off; Cargo ship heads to space station

Watch Pelley's full "60 Minutes" interview with Elon Musk below

Pelley: Now tell me what's that big piece right up there?

Musk: That's the second stage of a Falcon Nine rocket.

Musk's California factory is filled with young engineers and NASA veterans. He plans to cut the cost of space flight by 90 percent.

Musk: The odds of me coming into the rocket business, not knowing anything about rockets, not having ever built anything, I mean, I would have to be insane if I thought the odds were in my favor.

Pelley: Why even begin?

Musk: When something is important enough, you do it even if the odds are not in your favor.

We came across a Dragon capsule like the unmanned one headed to the space station. The first thing we noticed were the windows

Pelley: But people don't put windows in cargo ships.

Musk: That's right. Exactly.

Pelley: So what that tells me is that this was never intended to be only a cargo ship.

Musk: No the Dragon was always designed to carry astronauts.

Eventually it could hold seven seats. But there are critics, including space heroes, who doubt the safety of a private company.

Pelley: Neil Armstrong, Gene Cernan have both testified against commercial space flight in the way that you're developing it. And I wonder what you think of that?

Musk: I was very sad to see that because those guys are -- yeah, you know, those guys are heroes of mine, so it's really tough. You know, I -- I wish they would come and visit, and see the hard work that we're doing here. And -- and I think that would change their mind.

Pelley: They inspired you to do this, didn't they?

Musk: Yes.

Pelley: And to see them casting stones in your direction?

Musk: It's difficult.

Pelley: Did you expect them to cheer you on?

Musk: Certainly hoping they would.

Pelley: What are you trying to prove to them?

Musk: What I'm trying to do is, is to make a significant difference in space flight. And help make space flight accessible to almost anyone. And I would hope for as much support in that direction as we -- as we can receive.

Musk's Dragon capsule is schedule to dock with the space station on Friday.


  • Scott Pelley

    Anchor and Managing Editor, "CBS Evening News;" Correspondent, "60 Minutes"

Comments

Follow Us

Watch CBSN Live

Watch CBS News anytime, anywhere with the new 24/7 digital news network. Stream CBSN live or on demand for FREE on your TV, computer, tablet, or smartphone.

On Twitter