It may appear that billionaire entrepreneur Elon Musk has found success easily and quickly in every project he has picked so far – such as Tesla and SpaceX. But the journey has been far from smooth, according to him. At one point his private space company was almost broke and Mr Musk did not have a clue how to resurrect it. At that time, NASA came to Mr Musk’s rescue and saved SpaceX with a $1.5 billion contract, the tech tycoon has said in an interview. A video of the interview was shared on Twitter by Tesla owners of Silicon Valley, the global centre for innovation. And Mr Musk reacted to the video saying, “It’s true”.
Mr Musk said in the interview when NASA called with the offer, he “could not even hold the components”. “I just spill it out: I love you guys.”
The interviewer asked him, “They saved you?”
“Yeah, they did,” Mr Musk replied.
Financially and maybe emotionally, the interviewer continued.
“I will tell you, that was definitely helpful,” said Mr Musk, appearing to be overcome by the memory of those difficult days. The video has received more than 2,20,000 views.
Neither from the interview nor from Mr Musk’s comment, it was clear what the contract was for and when it was offered. But the closest link could be from SpaceX’s initial years. Between 2006 and 2008, SpaceX was going through a rough patch. Three launches of the Falcon 1 rocket had failed before the fourth succeeded in September 2008. Still, the company was on the verge of going bankrupt in late 2008, having not enough money to pay its employees.
But just two days before Christmas, NASA announced it was awarding commercial cargo contracts to SpaceX for 12 flights. The contract was valued at $1.6 billion, about the same as Mr Musk talked about in the interview.
Mr Musk founded SpaceX in 2002 with an aim to reduce space transportation costs to be able to colonise Mars one day.