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Elon Musk

84 - Elon Musk
2012 Rank: 61

CEO & CTO, SpaceX
Inventing PayPal made him a billionaire, but changing the world — whether developing electric cars that actually work and people want to drive or reducing the cost of launching satellites into orbit — has become the driving focus of the South African-born Musk. Since founding SpaceX in 2002, he has emerged as a serious challenger to the United Launch Alliance, which has had a stranglehold on military space launch for decades. Musk hopes to enter the national security market through the Air Force’s Evolved Expendable Launch Vehicle program, which will competitively award 14 launches to new entrants in the coming years, with contracts expected in 2015. Musk, founder of electric-car company Tesla, has nurtured a reputation as a technological pioneer; at age 42, he will likely find new ways to influence the defense realm in the coming decade. Indeed, despite withering early criticism, his Falcon rockets have redefined lean development, production and operations — the company prides itself on engineering its vehicles and engines — steadily becoming more reliable and powerful. On Dec. 3, his improved Falcon 9 launch vehicle proved it could successfully place a 7,000-pound spacecraft into a transfer orbit, paving the way to move up the business food chain. 

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