Elon Musk is the CEO and Product Architect of Tesla Motors and the CEO/CTO of Space Exploration Technologies (SpaceX).
At SpaceX, Elon is the chief designer, overseeing development of rockets and spacecraft for missions to Earth orbit and ultimately to other planets. In 2008, SpaceX's Falcon 9 rocket and Dragon spacecraft won the NASA contract to provide a commercial replacement for the cargo transport function of the Space Shuttle, which retired in 2011.
The SpaceX Falcon 1 was the first privately developed liquid fuel rocket to reach orbit. In 2010, SpaceX became the first commercial company to successfully recover a spacecraft from Earth orbit with its Dragon spacecraft. In 2012, SpaceX became the first commercial company to dock with the International Space Station and return cargo to Earth with the Dragon.
At Tesla, Elon has overseen product development and design from the beginning, including the all electric Tesla Roadster, Model S and Model X. Transitioning to a sustainable energy economy, in which electric vehicles play a pivotal role, has been one of his central interests for almost two decades, stemming from his time as a physics student working on ultracapacitors in Silicon Valley.
In addition, Elon is the non-executive chairman and principal shareholder of SolarCity, which he helped create. SolarCity is now the leading provider of solar power systems in the United States.
Prior to SpaceX, Elon co-founded PayPal, the world's leading Internet payment system, and served as the company's Chairman and CEO. Before PayPal, Mr. Musk co-founded Zip2, a provider of Internet software to the media industry. He has a physics degree from the University of Pennsylvania and a business degree from Wharton.
The UCLA Department of Neurosurgery is proud to shine the spotlight on Elon Musk as our Visionary Awardee as he exemplifies the intrepid spirit to invent a bold new future for America. Everyday, he pushes the boundaries for mankind by exploring the frontiers of outer space just as UCLA explores the inner space of the brain to accelerate new discoveries that will improve and save lives for generations to come.