Elon Musk Running Secret Project Out of SpaceX Headquarters

Here's what a small and secretive group called "Ad Astra" has been up to within SpaceX's headquarters.

Will McCormick
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The general public might recognize Elon Musk for his contributions to the automotive industry through Tesla and his innovative idea to bring the internet to space in the future. As a result of his direction, all kinds of exciting technology is being developed inside of SpaceX headquarters in Hawthrone, California.

However, a new report from ARS Technica revealed that Musk has actually been running a secret project in the corner of the building for at least four years now. Known as "Ad Astra," the project is actually a secret nonprofit school specifically created for Elon's five sons, the children of SpaceX's employees and other high-achieving students from around the Los Angeles area. 

Why Did Elon Musk Create His Own Private School?  

Back in 2014 when the project began, Musk pulled his five sons out of one of the most prestigious private schools for gifted children in the United States. Afterward, Musk hired one of his sons' teachers and founded "Ad Astra" with the goal to “exceed traditional school metrics on all relevant subject matter through unique project-based learning experiences."

In Elon Musk's own words, “I just didn’t see that regular schools were doing the things that I thought should be done. So I thought, well let’s see what we can do. Maybe creating a school will be better.”

The concept of the private school is simple. Children between the ages of 7 and 14 work together in teams to learn about subjects of their own choosing. Apparently, there is no grading and very few formal assignments to evaluate the students. There's a heavy emphasis on ethics, math, science, and engineering.

Subjects like languages, music, and sports aren't focused on as heavily. Students also have the option to opt out of courses and subjects they don't like. As of this writing, the school only has 50 kids or so and Musk funds everything involved in the program.

How Could Ad Astra Change Education? 

Unfortunately, the project has only been in development for four years. As a result, it's far too early to evaluate how effective the curriculum since no children have graduated from the program yet. On paper, the project allows children to focus and learn based on their interests and not on the curriculum determined by the state or a faulty.

Apparently, 400 families applied for the program in 2017. Obviously, the student body is expanding but the intention is to never exceed 50 students. Most parents are opting for an unconventional route for their child's education because of Elon Musk and what he's accomplished. The logic is if he feels his children should be taught this way, then perhaps there should be another option for the education system to consider.

Depending on the long-term success of Musk's program, more people may be looking to do the same thing.