SpaceX is a private company that was founded in 2002 by Elon Musk, the CEO of Tesla and SpaceX. Its main goal is to develop reusable rockets for space exploration and colonization.
SpaceX has become one of the biggest names in the aerospace industry over the last few years.
They have developed some amazing technology that will revolutionize how we travel into outer space – but what exactly do they do, and does space really need them?
What Is SpaceX?
Space Exploration Technologies Corp (SpaceX) is an American aerospace manufacturer based in Hawthorne, California.
Founded in 2002 by entrepreneur Elon Musk, SpaceX designs, manufactures, and launches advanced spacecraft and rocket systems. Their first major contract was with NASA to resupply the International Space Station back in 2008.
In 2014, SpaceX launched its Dragon V2 spaceship on a Falcon 9 rocket, making it the first commercial vessel capable of returning cargo from space.
In September 2015, SpaceX successfully landed the first stage booster of a Falcon 9 rocket on an autonomous drone ship floating in the Atlantic Ocean.
The landing was significant because it marked the first time that any government-backed team had managed to land a rocket booster intact on a platform in the ocean.
This also made SpaceX the only organization able to land its own boosters at sea.
SpaceX used this technology to fly two astronauts to the ISS in May of 2020. SpaceX also hopes to transport people to Mars and other destinations within our solar system.
The company has already started working on these projects through their division called SpaceX Commercial Crew which aims to send humans to orbit using SpaceX’s Dragon 2 capsule and Falcon Heavy rocket.
What Is SpaceX Starship?
The company also runs another division called SpaceX Starship which is focused on developing a heavy lift vehicle that can take large payloads into deep space. The vehicle itself is expected to be ready by 2023.
Starship is designed to carry up to 100 tons of cargo or 50 passengers to low Earth orbit. It would then detach from the rocket and dock with the International Space Station, where it could deliver supplies or return samples from the station.
This means that instead of having to build a whole new rocket every time you want to go into space, you could just attach the Starship to your existing rocket and fly away.
How Does SpaceX Work?
SpaceX works differently than most companies. Instead of being run by a single person, SpaceX is led by a board of directors who hire a CEO to manage day-to-day operations.
Elon Musk was the original founder of both SpaceX and Tesla Motors and stepped down from his role at SpaceX in 2018 so he could focus more on his other ventures like The Boring Company and Neuralink.
Musk’s brother Kimbal Roddenberry now serves as chairman of SpaceX while acting as executive producer for Star Trek: Discovery. Other members include Garrett Camp, Gwynne Shotwell, Benji Rogers, and Steve Jurvetson.
Musk remains involved in the business side of things as well. He still holds a seat on the board of directors and will continue to serve as CEO for the foreseeable future.
SpaceX currently employs over 4,000 people and operates out of three main facilities in Texas, Florida, and California.
SpaceX’s headquarters are located in Hawthorne, California, near Los Angeles International Airport.
SpaceX’s primary manufacturing facility is located in McGregor, Texas. There they manufacture the Falcon 9 rockets.
SpaceX And NASA
SpaceX’s largest customer base is NASA. The company has contracts worth hundreds of millions of dollars with the agency.
In 2014, SpaceX signed a $1.6 billion contract with NASA to develop the Falcon Heavy rocket. The rocket is scheduled to make its maiden flight later this year.
NASA uses the Falcon Heavy to launch some of its biggest missions, including the Juno probe that studies Jupiter and Cassini, the spacecraft that studied Saturn.
Other customers include the U.S. Air Force, NOAA, and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA).
SpaceX has received funding from NASA to help them develop reusable rockets. This way, if something goes wrong during a mission, the rocket doesn’t have to be destroyed.
What Is SpaceX Doing?
SpaceX’s ultimate goal is to reduce the cost of getting humans to Mars. They need to lower the price of launches and increase the number of flights per month to do this.
They’re also working to create cheaper engines. Currently, SpaceX relies on Russian engines to power its rockets. But these engines can cost upwards of $100 million each.
The company wants to use American engines for future flights. These engines should cut costs significantly and allow SpaceX to offer more frequent trips to space.
There are several projects underway right now. One involves developing an engine called Raptor. It’s designed to replace the current Merlin 1D engines used by SpaceX.
Once the raptor is fully developed, it’ll be able to provide enough thrust to send up satellites into orbit. That means you won’t need to pay extra to get your satellite into space.
In the meantime, SpaceX is using the Merlin 1D engines to test out the technology.
Another project is Dragon V2. This version of the spacecraft is capable of carrying astronauts to the ISS.
This new capsule features 12 SuperDraco thrusters instead of four. These thrusters enable the craft to land itself safely after completing a trip to space.
This design is similar to what Boeing is planning for their CST-100 Starliner capsule.
Do We Need SpaceX?
It depends on who you ask. For example, some people think SpaceX is unnecessary because there are other companies already working on reusable rockets.
Others say we don’t need SpaceX at all. They argue that private companies shouldn’t be allowed to compete with government agencies like NASA.
But others believe that having multiple companies working on different aspects of spaceflight is good. It allows us to learn from one another and improve our capabilities.
Either way, it’s undeniable that SpaceX is making history. Some of their most groundbreaking achievements include:
- First Private Company To Launch A Man Into Orbit
- First Commercial Crew Capsule
- First Reusable Rocket
- First Private Company To Land Their Own Rockets On Earth
- First Private Company With A Fully Reusable Rocket
- First Commercial Satellite Launched From US soil
- First Private Company With An Unmanned Spaceship
- First Private Company To Have A Successful Test Of Their New Engines
SpaceX may be controversial, but they’re revolutionary. You may either love them or hate them, but what cannot be argued is that SpaceX has made some incredible steps towards revolutionizing space travel.
Its ultimate goal is to enable people to live on other planets – while this may not ever need to happen, the way SpaceX has changed space travel in just ten years shows that they certainly have the authority, power, and resources to make this possible!
With plenty more exciting projects in the pipeline, we can expect to see even more revolutionary projects in the near future. It’s an exciting time for scientists, astronomers, and space lovers the world over!
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