Space

Who Is SpaceX?

SpaceX Dragon at SpaceX headquarters

SpaceX was founded in 2002, with the aim of colonizing Mars and cutting down on space transportation costs. Its founder, an entrepreneur and visionary, dreamt to make spaceflight cheaper and safer and to put humans on other planets. In just two and a half decades, the company has managed to secure 12 billion dollars in revenue. This organization has been accredited with the development of two families of spacecraft – falcon, and dragon. Both these rocket families deliver cargo into earth’s orbit.

SpaceX is the first private space company to ever put a satellite into an orbit around the sun. After partnering up with NASA for a project, it also became the first private company to ever send a spacecraft to the international space station. Since then, they’ve flown 16 missions to and from the ISS. Under another contract with NASA, SpaceX developed a dragon spacecraft that flew a crew to ISS and back to Earth, last month.  SpaceX also successfully launched and landed a falcon family rocket in 2015. It was the first ever rocket to use reusable launch system technology. Using propulsion, it was successfully landed back on its launching pad after an orbital spaceflight.

The company is also privately funding the development of spacecraft for manned missions to other planets in our solar system. Sometime in the next decade, these completely reusable rockets will see their first interplanetary journey. They are expected to be the largest rockets ever built.

They also developed a privately funded liquid rocket and sent it into the orbit around earth.

It is the commercial private organizations, like SpaceX, who would take us into the Final Frontier

Space – The Final Frontier – one thinks of NASA or maybe even the Russian space program as the organizations taking us into this final Frontier. But it now seems that we are seeing the true emergence of the private space industry. Of course, for years there have been commercial satellites put into space and some of the best known being the Sirius and XM satellite radio ventures.

SpaceX – one of the pioneers of privately-funded space travel

SpaceX has been getting a lot of news coverage for their missions to the International Space Station. Founded by Elon Musk (who is the founder of PayPal) in 2002 they have been pioneering private space travel and on December 9, 2010, they became the first privately funded company to successfully launch, orbit and recover a spacecraft on their COTS Demo Flight 1 mission.

SpaceX then made major news when on May 22, 2012, their Falcon 9 rocket carried their Dragon capsule (unmanned) to the International Space Station (ISS) to dock and bring supplies.

SpaceX’s Future Plans

What’s next for SpaceX? NASA has contracted with the company to develop a manned version of its Dragon capsule in order to transport crew to the ISS. This public-private relationship is similar to that of the military industrial complex and begins the major privatization of the space industry.

SpaceX is also contracting with other organizations besides NASA for launch services for satellites. Future plans excite that space-minded include building rockets powerful enough for lunar orbiting and reaching Mars.

Colonization of Mars

However, Musk’s main objective is to create a self-sufficient settlement on Mars in the next four to ten decades. But why is colonizing mars such a big deal to him? The answer is this: Expansion to worlds beyond our own is our only hope for long-term survival.  Elon Musk believes that if humanity on earth goes extinct, either by its own creations, such as a rogue advanced artificial intelligence, biochemical warfare, nuclear annihilation or simply by natural causes such as a good ol’ asteroid impact – the kind that wiped out the dinosaurs – we will have a backup plan in the form of Martian colonies.  He believes that the advent of advanced AI will mark the end of our civilization. This might sound outlandish to some but to Elon Musk, it’s an important enough job to save humanity from that end.

“When something is important enough, you do it even if the odds are not in your favor.” –Elon Musk

But how can one corporation colonize a different planet? Elon Musk is betting on lowering costs for space travel. He’s already making space transportation cheaper with his reusable rockets, these rockets leave their cargo in the orbit and return back to their launching pad using propulsion. This process can be repeated 10 times, essentially cutting the cost by ten folds.

SpaceX Falcon 9 Rocket

Falcon 9 is a family of reusable rockets, which deliver their payload which includes satellites, cargo, and US astronauts and return back to the launch sites. They cost around 62 million dollars apiece.

Falcon heavy

SpaceX’s Falcon heavy rockets are the world’s largest rockets. They are reusable and use triple boosters for flight and landing.  It debuted in 2018 when it carried a Tesla Roadster and a dummy named Starman inside it to the orbit between earth and mars.

SpaceX Facts

  • Headquartered in Hawthorne, CA which includes offices, factory and mission control
  • Launch sites include the Kwajalein Atoll in the Marshall Islands, Cape Canaveral, and Vandenberg AirForce Base
  • Primary Rockets are the Falcon family
  • Primary Spacecraft is the Dragon family
  • Employs over 6000 people
  • The “secret” payload of the first SpaceX Dragon test flight was a wheel of cheese in honor of John Cleese and Monty Python
  • The Falcon rockets are named after the Millennium Falcon from Star Wars

Elon Musk is the visionary founder who believes that Human Beings need to become a multi-planet species to survive.

One wonders if SpaceX will venture into space tourism as well. With the advancement of rocket technology, lowering of production cost and the growing industry it would seem that anything is possible. SpaceX is definitely one company to watch.

In 2017 years ago, SpaceX signed a contract with a Japanese billionaire, Yusaku Maezawa, to take him to the moon, to act out the Apollo lunar missions.  Four years from now, SpaceX will have developed their Super heavy rocket, which will fly him to the moon along with a handful of astronauts.

Elon Musk on deciding to launch (pardon the pun) a more accessible means to space flight

“Today it costs over a billion dollars for a space shuttle flight. The cost… is fundamentally what’s holding us back from becoming a space traveling civilization and ultimately a multi-planet species.”

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