SpaceX founder Elon Musk stands before cheering SpaceX employees at their Los Angeles facility following the successful launch of their Falcon 9 rocket on May 22, 2012.
In a year filled with asteroid flybys, a meteor explosion and new leaps forward in American commercial spaceflight, it only makes sense that the leaders in space innovation would be recognized for their efforts. Time Magazine prominently features two of those space leaders in its annual list of the 100 most influential people in the world, released today (April 18).
Featured in the "titans" category, Elon Musk (the founder and creative mind behind SpaceX) is helping to make American commercial spaceflight a viable option now and in the future. So far, the billionaire mogul has already flown two successful unmanned missions to the International Space Station using the private spaceflight firm's Dragon capsule and Falcon 9 rocket. The two missions were part of a $1.6 billion deal SpaceX penned with NASA to fly a dozen missions hauling supplies and experiments to the space station. [The Most Influential Space Innovators (Countdown )]
Listed in the "pioneers" category, Don Yeomans is NASA's chief space rock hunter. He keeps an eye on the sky from the space agency's Near-Earth Object Program Office. In light of a meteor explosion over Chelyablinsk, Russia and the unrelated flyby of Asteroid 2012 DA14 on Feb. 15, the public seems to be more aware of the threats posed by falling space rocks than ever before. According to Rusty Schweickart — the founder of the asteroid hunting B612 Foundation and the author of Yeomans' section in the magazine — Yeomans is "one of the reasons we can all sleep a little better at night."
You can read the full list on Time Magazine's website.