South African citizen Elon Musk on Monday earned praise from President Cyril Ramaphosa for his company SpaceX’s historic first commercial flight into space to deliver American astronauts to the International Space Station (ISS) at the weekend.The president said Musk “has made us proud as a country and continent.”
“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,” Ramaphosa said.
He added: “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.”
Musk is a global technology pioneer and a veteran of the Silicon Valley in the United States where he has made billions as the owner of PayPal which has enabled him to work on the multibillion dollar space rocket project.
Working with that country’s National Aeronautical Space Agency (NASA), on Saturday Musk’s SpaceX’s Falcon 9 rocket boosted a spacecraft with two US astronauts in it into space to successful land at the space station located 260 miles above earth.
Christened the Crew Dragon, the spacecraft carried NASA Astronauts Bob Behnken and Doug Hurley — delivering them to the ISS 19 hours after departure from the US state of Florida.
This was the first time in history that a private-sector entity had launched astronauts for NASA, which is an entity of the United States government.
Musk, who also owns the Tesla electric car manufacturing plants in the US and China, holds South African, Canadian and United States passports.
He left Africa at the age of 17 with his family to move to Canada, before drifting down south to the USA.