If Musk's vision eventually does turn into a reality, it could help improve the air transportation industry, which, according to the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC), emits far more pollution than any other method of transportation. By their measure, every ton of cargo moved by plane adds over 4.5 times more particulate matter and nearly 25 times more nitrous oxides to the environment than if it were transported by ship.
Musk has obviously been thinking electric for quite some time now, having devoted his time, energy and investments to Tesla Motors' electric vehicles, such as the new sedan Model S and the first fully efficient SUV, the Model X.
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At Tesla, he's also working on the PowerWall, a home battery that uses electricity generated from solar panels for charging, powers homes in the evening and provides a backup electricity supply. Then there's Tesla's $5 billion lithium-ion-battery-producing Gigafactory in Nevada that's currently under construction.
Although Musk has a lot of interest in electric-powered transportation and homes, the rockets he's developing for SpaceX are not driven by electricity. Even though rocket launches are rare, they're harmful to the environment when they do blast off, with the reactive gases emitted causing ozone molecules to break apart.