Entrepreneur Elon Musk is already leading a company with plans to send men to Mars. Now, he'll play a direct role in a totally different venture: electric cars.

Barely two weeks after his aerospace startup Space Exploration Technologies Inc. successfully launched its first unmanned rocket into orbit, Musk announced he's taking over as chief executive of Tesla Motors Inc., a Bay Area startup that builds sporty electric cars.

Both companies are hitting critical junctures right now, and that raises the question: Can Musk divide his time between the two without short-changing both?

Frank Sietzen, a space industry analyst who worked for SpaceX when it was still in its infancy, said Musk can pull it off if he learns to delegate work better.

Sietzen described Musk as a hands-on boss who routinely logged 12 to 14 hour days, six to seven days a week at SpaceX, when it was a new company.

Musk is already chief executive and chief technology officer of Hawthorne-based SpaceX. After three unsuccessful attempts to get to space, its Falcon 1 rocket reached orbit at the end of September, making SpaceX the first company to put a privately funded and developed rocket into space.

It's been a long time coming for Musk, who founded SpaceX in 2002 with the aim of sending men into space and has poured about $100 million into it from his own pocket.

Now, Musk is going to have to divide his attention between SpaceX and Tesla, which is grappling with its own challenges.

While there's a backlog of orders for Tesla's sleek high-end Roadster electric car, the company in mid-October announced it was laying off a portion of its 250 employees and closing a plant in Detroit.

Musk, a major investor in Tesla, wrote a blog post blaming the company's struggles on the general economic downturn. He also announced the goal of making Tesla cash-flow positive within six to nine months.

Sour Notes

Activision Blizzard Inc.'s latest installment in its "Guitar Hero" franchise, "Guitar Hero World Tour," is scheduled to hit store shelves Oct. 26, just as the corporate battle over money generated from music and rhythm video games is heating up.

The chief executives of Activision and Warner Music Group have recently traded jabs over the cut music companies receive from hugely popular video games such as "Guitar Hero," in which players jam to rock songs on guitar-shaped game controllers.

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