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SpaceX CEO Elon Musk's rock star press conference after Dragon's splashdown

NASA-SpaceX

NASA TV

SpaceX CEO Elon Musk establishes a whole new image for final frontier.

SpaceX CEO Elon Musk is officially the hottest chief executive on Planet Earth. His Southern California space-exploration startup just staged the most impressive and successful demonstration of commercial space technology...well, ever.

Launch to splashdown, except for a last-second abort of a weekend blastoff — rectified a few days later — and a brief power outage or communications glitch at SpaceX's Hawthorne HQ, it all went off with nary a miscue. 

Even the hardened space honchos at NASA are probably hoping for ride in Musk's personal Tesla Roadster in the near future (Musk is also CEO of Tesla Motors, the Silicon Valley electric carmaker). 

Musk himself followed up the splashdown of the Dragon capsule in the Pacific with a telegenic and sound-bite laden press conference. My tweets of the event, which was carried live on NASA TV, are below. I left out a good one, in which Musk said that what he wanted to say to Dragon, bobbing scorched but intact in the blue ocean after enduring fiery re-entry, was: "Welcome back, baby. It's like seeing your kid come home." 

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Facebook v. SpaceX, Part III: Meltdown and splashdown

NASA-SpaceX

NASA TV

SpaceX CEO Elon Musk is having a much better few weeks than Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg.

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg is honeymooning in Italy while Facebook's stock heads ever-southward, a week and half after its disappointing IPO — possibly the most disappointing big IPO in U.S. business history.

Meanwhile, SpaceX CEO Elon Musk is sitting in a control room in Hawthorne, Calif., tweeting away as his space exploration startup caps the best two weeks for the U.S. and space since Mercury astronaut Alan Shepard became the first American to visit space in 1961.

Facebook meltdowns while SpaceX splashes down! You can't beat the symmetry for these two California companies. (For what it's worth, Facebook should be OK. A $60 billion market-cap company is nothing to sneeze at.)

So SpaceX's Dragon capsule did indeed successfully detach from the International Space Station, survive atmospheric re-entry, deploy chutes, and splash down in the Pacific Ocean off the coast of Baja earlier today. As of 11:34 a.m. Pacific Time, it "looks good," according to Musk. So it hasn't sunk. It isn't on the barge yet, to head back to port.

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Project Runway: SpaceX and Tesla CEO Elon Musk loves the red carpet

Tesla Motors LA Flagship Store Launch

Vince Bucci/Getty Images

Tesla founder Elon Musk attends the launch party for the Tesla Roadster, the world's first highway-capable all electric car available in the United States, at the Tesla Flagship Store on May 1, 2008 in Los Angeles.

UK Tesla Launch - Arrivals

Gareth Cattermole/[Gareth Cattermole/Getty Images

Elon Musk arrives at the Tesla UK launch on June 25, 2009 in London, England.

Premiere Of "Revenge Of The Electric Car" At The 2011 Tribeca Film Festival

Joe Corrigan/Getty Images

Bob Lutz, Chris Paine, Stefano Durdic, and Elon Musk attend "Revenge of he Electric Car," Paine's follow-up to "Who Killed the Electric Car," at the 2011 Tribeca Film Festival.

Orange British Academy Film Awards - Outside Arrivals

Ian Gavan/Getty Images

Ex-wife Talulah Riley and Elon Musk attend the 2011 Orange British Academy Film Awards at The Royal Opera House on February 13, 2011 in London, England.

2011 WSJ Magazine Innovator Of The Year Awards

Fernando Leon/Getty Images

Elon Musk and Maye Musk (That's his mom!) attend the 2011 WSJ Magazine Innovator of the Year Awards at the Museum of Modern Art on October 27, 2011 in New York City.

"Help Wanted" Shorts Program - 2012 Tribeca Film Festival

Cindy Ord/Getty Images

Director Bryn Mooser, executive producer Elon Musk, executive producer Olivia Wilde and director David Darg of the film 'Baseball in the Time of Cholera' attend "Help Wanted" Shorts Program during the 2012 Tribeca Film Festival.


SpaceX and Tesla Motors CEO Elon Musk is a serious dude with a serious vision. He made a fortune as a co-founder of PayPal and promptly put it all at risk by investing in an electric-car startup, a space-travel startup, and — just to hedge his bets — a solar-installation startup. 

Not your average CEO. And even by the standards of not-average CEOs, practically a rock star. Musk is no stranger to the red carpet. Sometimes it's Musk alone. Sometimes it's Musk with an attractive woman on his arm. (Who is sometimes his mom!) Sometimes it's Musk in a group.

Musk lives in Los Angeles — he's actually the 24th richest guy in town, at a cool $2b billion, according to the L.A. Business Journal — and seems to have more than a little bit of Hollywood in him. After all, the guy has had a hand not just in blasting rockets at the International Space Station but in producing four movies.

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Is Elon Musk the new Steve Jobs? Not according to Musk

Tesla Worldwide Debut of Model X

Jordan Strauss/Getty Images for Tesla

SpaceX and Tesla Motors CEO Elon Musk speaks onstage during the debut of the Model X electric vehicle in Los Angeles. Steve Jobs had the black turtleneck. Musk has the black velvet dinner jacket.

SpaceX and its CEO, Elon Musk, hit a home run last week by launching the first commercial mission to service the International Space Station. This has led some to ask if Musk might be the "next Steve Jobs" — a technological and cultural visionary who unites people across a wide range of experiences and backgrounds. 

It's a tempting question to ask. I've seen it pop up on Quora, the startup question-and-answer site where I've been spending a lot of time lately hanging out and...well, answering questions (just not yet ones about whether Musk is the new Jobs). It's cropped up since Jobs' death last year and has been discussed more recently in the context of what the two men have in common. 

A few months back, in connection with an article I wrote for Pasadena magazine about Musk's other company, Tesla Motors, I asked him what he thought. He was gracious, praising Jobs, but also careful to make a distinction about what he does (sorry, no link):

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Facebook v. SpaceX, Part II: The agony and the ecstasy

SpaceX-Launch

SpaceX

Blast off! Hawthorne-based SpaceX has had a very good week.

Last week, I wrote about how two California companies — Facebook and SpaceX — were experiencing big events. Facebook of course was staging its long anticipated IPO, immediately after which its CEO staged his own private big event, a marriage to longtime girlfriend Priscilla Chan. SpaceX was expected to launch the first mission by a private company to service the International Space Station. That didn't happen over the weekend, but it took place on Tuesday. SpaceX's CEO has been married twice already, so celebratory nuptials weren't on his agenda.

Of the two big events, you'd have expected Facebook's IPO to be more-or-less hassle-free, as it minted numerous billionaires and millionaires. Meanwhile, SpaceX was shooting rockets into space. Millions of things could have gone wrong.

The way things actually turned out is a study in contrast. Astonishing contrast.

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