Given his outstanding achievements, quite a few people suspect that Tesla and SpaceX boss Elon Musk is out of this world. He likes to respond to alien jokes on Twitter himself, and as a time traveler, the multi-entrepreneur and recently richest man in the world has occasionally been suspected. Most of it is just for fun, of course, but if you want to speculate about such possibilities, you can now get new food for it: In 1948, long before Musk was born in 1971, the German rocket researcher Wernher von Braun wrote a novel about life on Mars. In the book there is a government on the Red Planet – and its boss is referred to as “Elon”.
Von Braun wanted to go to Mars before Musk
Like the native South African Elon Musk with SpaceX today, the German Wernher von Braun also dealt with rockets, albeit initially in a less peaceful mission. First he developed the famous V2 for the Nazis, the world’s first working surface-to-surface missile and the first man-made object to reach space. In May 1945 he surrendered to US troops and was brought to the USA together with colleagues shortly after the end of the war. There he continued to work militarily, but was then transferred to NASA, which was supposed to catch up with Russia in space travel.
Like Musk today, von Braun also thought about conquering Mars. And after the war, he even found time to write a book about it. In 1948 his manuscript “The Mars Project” was written. Initially, this novel did not find a publisher – but it did find its technical appendix, in which von Braun described the requirements for a manned mission to the Red Planet in detail, even if he said it was still incomplete. In 1952 it was first published in German and in 1953 in English. The complete work was published for the first time in 2006 under the title “Project Mars: A Technical Tale”.
Given the great importance of Braun and Musk’s enormous interest in books from early childhood, the later SpaceX founder could well have known the book. But when it was mentioned on Twitter shortly before the end of the year, he showed himself to be ignorant. He himself appears in it, or at least his first name: “The government of Mars consists of seven men. At its head was a man, elected by the general population for five years at a time, whom the Martians called ‘Elon’, according to a Twitter photo on page 391 of the original manuscript.
Even Musk could not believe that at first: “Are we sure that this is real?”, He asked the Twitter group, but this was confirmed many times. So did von Braun already know in 1948 that one day a restless person named Elon would come and try to put his Mars ideas into practice? Was the Tesla and SpaceX boss, who, according to his own statement, strives to save humanity with his huge Tesla wealth, was brought to us by a higher power or providence, as is so often the case on Twitter, half in fun and half in Was meant seriously?
SpaceX boss as god-emperor in space
The trigger is of course more banal – or the higher being behind today’s Elon is so adept at hiding itself better: Elon sounds unusual to German ears, but is well known in other linguistic and cultural areas. In the Old Testament one of the judges (and thus also leaders) of the Israelites bore this name.
Aside from that, Musk mentioned on a podcast that he would prefer the title God Emperor for his position on Mars – it was a joke, he added, just to be on the safe side. But maybe a tradition of Elon rulers will emerge on Mars after all: Musk’s many followers would certainly be willing to grant him the title of Imperial God if he really makes it to Mars with SpaceX during his lifetime. And as a history-savvy Twitter user explained, Caesar was only a name until a man with the first name Julius came along and made him an official title, which in German today is Kaiser.