Rocket Man

Billionaire Elon Musk is getting America back in the space game

Andrew HarrerGetty Images

Elon Musk, chief executive officer of Space Exploration Technologies Corp. (SpaceX) and Tesla Motors Inc., speaks at the National Press Club in Washington, D.C., U.S., on Thursday, Sept. 29, 2011. Musk said SpaceX is developing a reusable rocket.

Eighteen months ago, Elon Musk launched a 50-lb. wheel of cheese into space. Really.

Musk was preparing for the first orbital test of his brand-new Dragon spacecraft atop his brand-new Falcon 9 rocket, and it seemed a shame to send the ship up empty. So he drove to nearby Beverly Hills, Calif., and bought the biggest piece of cheese he could find; then he and a few of his engineers at the Space Exploration Technologies Co., or SpaceX, rigged it into place inside the capsule and sent it off. The Dragon made it into orbit and came home safely--becoming the first...

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