President Cyril Ramaphosa has congratulated Space Exploration Technologies (SpaceX) founder Elon Musk for Saturday’s historic space flight, which was the first ever by a commercial company.
The SpaceX flight has since delivered two astronauts from the US National National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) at the International Space Station.
Ramaphosa said on Monday that Musk, who was born in South Africa and holds South African, Canadian and US citizenship, “has made us proud as a country and continent.”
‘Hope and excitement’
He added, “The Dragon’s successful flight to the International Space Station speaks of the ability of a resilient, industrious, fearless and visionary individual to harness talent and material resources to open new frontiers of hope, adventure and opportunity for generations into the future.
“It is most appropriate that we have been given this hope and excitement at a time when insecurity and uncertainty defines the human condition in many parts of the world.”
Reacting to the successful flight on Saturday, Musk told reporters, “I’m really quite overcome with emotion on this day. It’s kind of hard to talk, frankly. I’ve spent 18 years working toward this goal, so it’s hard to believe that it’s happened.”
The billionaire Musk, who turns 49 later in June, had a net worth of $41 billion (approximately R714 billion) as of 1 June, according to the Bloomberg Billionaires Index. He is also the founder and CEO of Tesla Motors.
Elon Musk and South Africa
Elon Musk’s birthplace was in Pretoria in 1971. He developed an interest in computers at the age of 10, around the same time his parents divorced.
A self-taught programmer, he sold his first software at the age of 12. He moved with his mother Maye Musk to Canada in 1989 when he was 17 and obtained Canadian citizenship soon thereafter.
Musk obtained his university education at Queen’s University in Canada and the University of Pennsylvania, which he joined in 1992 to study business and physics.
Although he enrolled for a PhD at Stanford University, he dropped out and started his first company, Zip2 Corporation, to cash in on the internet boom in 1995. He became a US citizen in 2002.
Musk’s father, Errol Musk, is a successful engineer and entrepreneur based in South Africa. However, they reportedly do not get along because of family issues.
In a Twitter exchange in September last year, Musk said he “would love to” import Tesla cars to South Africa “but import duties are extremely high, even for electric vehicles.”