Fly high, fail forward

While we're on the subject, what are the metrics for successful innovation? By way of an update on entrepreneur with big ideas, I've got an idea.

Elon Musk gave an interview in September. Though the information is a bit dated and much may have changed, Musk says that the next flight of Falcon 1, his orbital lift vehicle, should take place this month or next (watch the curvature of the Earth appear in this on board Falcon 1 video from a launch early last year. It's still really cool). The heavier Falcon 9 (ten ton payload), with which SpaceX has conducted some hold down firings, might fly in late 2008. In the interview Musk also provides a glimpse into his company, saying it plans very substantial employee growth in 2008, is vertically integrated from engine construction to sales to launch and, astonishingly - or maybe not considering Musk's personal wealth - is entirely self funded and has turned down outside investment. Human spaceflight using its Dragon capsule might occur as early as 2011.

In May Wired published this piece on Musk that might interest you. There's a reason why it's called rocket science.

Suitably impressed with all that, Inc. Magazine extended its entrepreneur of the year award to him just last month, citing, among other things, his otherworldly plans. No joke:

The goal of putting people on Mars is no joke. Musk believes that over the four-and-a-half-billion-year history of planet Earth, a dozen or so events have truly mattered. Edging forward in his chair, he ticks off a few: 'There was the advent of single-celled life, multicelled life, the development of plants, then animals,' he says. 'On this time scale, I'd put the extension of life to another planet slightly above the transition from life in the oceans to life on land.' If there's something insane about a CEO who thinks his company's mission is more important than any accomplishment in all of human history--indeed, in all of fish history--there's also something irresistible.

How is innovation measured? Sure it helps to be incredibly wealthy. Still: fly high. Fail forward.

Make it a great 2008.