Real-life Hugo Draxes play with rockets

Cover to a recent edition of Ian Fleming’s Moonraker novel

In the 1955 novel Moonraker, Ian Fleming wrote about Hugo Drax, a mysterious multi-millionaire who was building a missile for Britain.

Today, the 21st century has its own billionaire Hugo Draxes, except they’re playing with rockets as part of private space companies: Richard Branson (Virgin Galactic), Jeff Bezos (Blue Origin) and Elon Musk (SpaceX).

These billionaires can be flamboyant as Fleming’s Drax. Branson is scheduled to fly to the edge of space today. Fellow billionaire Bezos is scheduled to fly to space on July 20. The billionaires are feuding whether Branson is making a true space flight.

A Dec. 13, 2019 episode of the podcast James Bond & Friends mused whether you could do an updated adaptation of Live And Let Die in the 21st century. Toward the end (about the 1 hour, 6-minute mark) the discussion briefly turned to how to do a 21st-century Moonraker adaptation and how billionaires and their rockets could be a hook.

Perhaps it could still be done. Branson had a cameo in 2006’s Casino Royale. Bezos, with his shaved head, has been compared to a James Bond villain. And Musk is a big James Bond fan.

UPDATE (11:47 a.m. New York Time): Branson’s flight was successful. CNN provided a lot of breathless, context-free coverage.

Elon Musk has a ‘Project Goldfinger’

Elon Musk photo on Twitter on April 29.

Elon Musk’s one time Twitter photo.

Elon Musk, who builds electric cars and launches rockets, has a thing for James Bond.

In 2013, Musk bought the submarine car from The Spy Who Loved Me. For a time, he had a picture of himself on Twitter evoking Ernst Stavro Blofeld (and Dr. Evil).

This week, according to the Jalopnik website, there’s part of his Fremont, California, plant that builds electric cars with a sign reading, “Top Secret: Project Goldfinger.”

Here’s an excerpt from the story by Jalopnik’s Michael Ballaban:

It’s a bit of a mystery as to what it is. The paper sign was attached to a temporary wall sealing off an area from prying eyes near a stamping section of the factory, and everyone I asked didn’t know what I was talking about.

Tesla spokespeople had no idea, Tesla employees had no idea, even Elon Musk himself claimed to have no clue as to what I was talking about when I asked him at a press conference. He laughed, dismissed it as “probably a joke,” and moved on.

It should be noted that Auric Goldfinger gave the code name “Operation: Grand Slam” to his plan to steal gold from Fort Knox (as in Ian Fleming’s novel) or to explode an atomic bomb there (as in the 1964 movie).

Anyway, Ballaban writes he’s been told Musk uses Bond-related names for project updates. Musk does have a lot of his plate. Tesla Motors Inc., the electric-car company that Musk runs, is in the midst of expanding its lineup. And SpaceX, another Musk company, always is busy.

Elon Musk and Blofeld, the sequel

Elon Musk photo on Twitter on April 29.

Elon Musk photo on Twitter.

Elon Musk, the CEO of Tesla Motors and SpaceX, really, really likes to compare himself to Ernst Stavro Blofeld, James Bond’s arch enemy.

This week, SpaceX had a much-publicized launch. It didn’t go as planned. Here’s an excerpt from CNN’S WEBSITE:

(CNN)—SpaceX on Tuesday launched a two-stage Falcon 9 rocket carrying an uncrewed cargo spacecraft called Dragon on a flight from Cape Canaveral, Florida, to the International Space Station.

That was the easy part. In a difficult bid to land a rocket stage on a floating barge for the first time, the private space exploration company was unsuccessful.

Musk, whose photo on Twitter evokes Blofeld as well as Dr. Evil from the Austin Powers movies, had been more optimistic about the outcome. And, in doing so, *again* evoked Blofeld, specifically as depicted in You Only Live Twice:

Musk was less jovial after the landing failure.