Entrepreneur, and engineer – quite the description of Elon Musk. The man that founded PayPal and now at the helm of one of the most well known space companies in existence, too. A true innovator, Mr. Musk was born on this earth to parents who were in their twenties during the early days of the Space Race. So, clearly someone has a knack for building things that fly.
What does all this have to do with the design of the new SpaceX craft? Well, it seems as if he got into his own company because of an interest in space, and his visions of sending people to the moon and eventually to Mars. In 2021, he took the first steps toward realizing those dreams by founding the Hawthorne Division, a company designed to design, build and maintain space hardware for clients. His first project for the Hawthorne division was the development of the world’s first private space launch vehicle, the MSLV. This was followed by the development of the use of satellites to relay communications and images back to earth. These Invent Help endeavors made Musk the most impressive designer in our industry.
After the completion of these two important design developments, SpaceX saw a need to develop its own satellite system. The success of this venture led to the formation of a partnership with Boeing Commercial Airline Company to develop and supply this system. Not only does the company manufacture the hardware, but it also supplies the pilots and crew to launch it into orbit. The synergy that is present between Musk and Boeing is responsible for the reliability and safety that are present in the company’s fleet.
When we look at the SpaceX site, we see quite a few similarities with the famous design site at NASA. Both have their primary headquarters in Cape Canaveral, Florida. They have logos that are very similar, as well as many other items. For example, the logo is almost identical to that of NASA, particularly the emblem. The color scheme, equipment and even the uniforms of the employees appear to be very similar to those found on NASA.
Although both companies are involved in the design of the various components of the rocket, there are some major differences. For example, whereas NASA uses their blueprints to develop their designs, SpaceX uses a diagrammatic approach. That means that, while a design is generated by considering many different factors, the actual construction process never looks the same. For example, in order to build a vehicle that can go to Mars, they will take several different measurements, such as the time it takes to travel to the Moon and back, the weight of the cargo, the temperature at various stages of flight and the pressure at various locations on the ground. Knowing these factors beforehand allows them to better calculate how much fuel they will need.
Once the design for the vehicle has been finalized, the engineers and technicians begin the actual construction process. Unlike NASA, SpaceX does not use a “pyrotechnic” test, to show whether or not the rocket is safe. Instead, they carefully assemble each stage. This involves placing individual segments together so that they are not going to blow apart upon taking off. Many of the parts are constructed in a facility called the service module at nearby Kennedy Space Center.
Once the vehicle has been launched into orbit, it will be inspected and any required checks completed before it is re-assembled. As with the design of the vehicle, the SpaceX technicians carefully inspect each piece and re-attach them. When all is complete, it is time to fire the rocket at its launch site. During this time, the countdown begins.
While watching the numbers go by, you can also see the different colors and logos of the pieces, as well as the engine that is powering it. At one time, the vehicle had just three segments, but recently has increased to five. Some have suggested that it may be too much, but Musk assures that it is safe. “I think we’re still okay, but I wouldn’t say that we’re perfect, either,” he says. The cost of buying the materials and launching the rocket is expensive, but if you are a billionaire like him, you should be able to afford something like that.