New Stories

What’s Up With SpaceX?

by Ally Hall

If you’re immersed in the tech world like so many college-age students are these days, chances are good that you’ve heard of SpaceX either in conversation, your media feed, or on the news. It’s a topic that’s growing in popularity, and rightly so taking a look at the history of the company. If the 20th century’s final frontier icebreaker was NASA, the 21st century has placed SpaceX in the spotlight to carry on the United States’ pioneering spirit.

SpaceX was founded in 2002 by Elon Musk, also the founder of Tesla, Inc. (previously Tesla Motors), PayPal, and co-founder of Neuralink—a neurotechnology company currently in development of implantable brain-computer interfaces.

Since its beginnings, SpaceX has been striving toward one goal: enabling people to live on other planets. Yes, Elon Musk wants to colonise Mars.

But that’s not the only thing the company is pushing for. Internet satellites, observation satellites for the Canadian Government, GPS satellites for the U.S. Air Force, and even the first commercial aircraft to attach to the International Space Station are all services or achievements the company has accomplished or will accomplish in the next few years.

So, what could possibly be next on the list for this company to strive toward? You’d better believe it when we say plenty. The launch manifest is chock-full of planned missions for the future, yet one in particular stands out from the rest in the sheer fact that it impacts us civilians directly.

Some time this year, SpaceX will be sending a spacecraft named Dragon to circumnavigate the Moon while piloted by two private citizens who have paid deposits to do so.

In 2012, Dragon became the very first non-government spacecraft to deliver cargo to the ISS and return safely to Earth. Dragon can carry up to over 13,000 pounds of cargo at launch and over 6,000 pounds back from the ISS; though it currently functions as a cargo ferry between space and Earth, it was originally designed to carry a manned crew. SpaceX is in the final stages of modifying the spacecraft to allow for complete autonomy monitored by mission control and an on-board crew.

The futuristic, movie-set-like spacecraft sports four windows for maximum views of the planets—or the void, if that’s more your thing—and seats made from carbon fibre and Alcantara cloth, a suedelike microfibre material commonly used in fashion, automotive and marine industries. The ship also comes equipped with an Environmental Control and Life Support System (ECLSS), temperature control between 65 and 80 degrees Fahrenheit, and an emergency escape system for the crew that will protect them with the option of an ejection in order to prevent another disaster along the likes of NASA’s fatal Challenger Space Shuttle explosion.

You can find out about Dragon’s current status and more on SpaceX’s website at http://www.spacex.com.

Advertisements

7 Comments on What’s Up With SpaceX?

  1. Nice article, but the Dragon circumlunar mission is not going to happen this year – if it does at all. SpaceX has to get crewed flights to ISS going first, and will be lucky to get even the crewed demo mission done this year.

    The lunar mission requires Falcon Heavy, and SpaceX is not working to human rate the Heavy, preferring instead to move ahead as quickly as possible with the BFS/BFR rocket for human exploration of the solar system.

    Like

  2. The SpaceX private moon shot was cancelled. They’ve said they have no plans to manrate the FH.

    Like

  3. Sorry, but the Crew Dragon (7 people max) trip around the Moon is off. SpaceX decided to put those resources into accelerating the development of their BFR (Big F***in Rocket) transportation system, which will FAR larger – about 106 meters tall and 9 meter wide with 31 launch engines.

    It has 2 parts: BFB (lower stage, Booster), and BFS (upper stage, Spaceship) which will be capable of carrying up to 100 people and 150 metric tonnes of cargo to Mars, the Moon, or from one side of Earth to the other in about 30 minutes. Spaceship will be 9 meters wore, 48 meters long and configurable for crews, cargo, or as a fuel tanker.

    Spaceship is being built now, and should begin short test flights in early 2019. An orbital flight in 2020 is planned, then unmanned test flights to the Moon and Mars before people can go.

    Like

  4. You really want to know what’s up with SpaceX?

    SpaceX wowed the world with its Falcon Heavy maiden launch. But the truth is that Falcon Heavy will not fly very often and will not fly crewed missions. Sure, it is a good way to use up the Falcon 9 boosters that they have been recovering. But it is junk compared to the company’s next rocket.

    The real excitement comes in 2-5 years with the “BFR” (Big “Falcon” Rocket). That rocket is designed to be fully reusable, unlike the Falcon 9 and Falcon Heavy, which both expend the second stage. That is why BFR will be able to carry more cargo than any other rocket *in history*, yet has the potential to be cheaper than Falcon 9 ($62 million) or even the long forgotten Falcon 1 (~$7 million). Basically, the cost of fuel is much less than the cost of throwing the larger half of your rocket into the ocean.

    If realized, SpaceX will stop flying Falcon 9 and Falcon Heavy and eventually only launch the BFR. Theoretically, you could get everything done in low Earth orbit with a single fully reusable BFR. The payload that can be launched exceeds that of the most powerful rocket in history, the Saturn V… in REUSABLE MODE. In expendable mode, the BFR can launch 75% more mass than the Saturn V.

    Joseph Friedlander calculated that BFR could deliver cargo to the Moon for $93,000 per metric ton, versus $117 million per metric ton for the Saturn V that landed man on the Moon. So you can see that a fully reusable heavy launch vehicle like BFR can make space colonization downright feasible. It can also enable you to launch more big ‘n’ cheap massive space telescopes.

    Everything exciting SpaceX has done or will do (crewed Dragon flights) will pale in comparison to BFR. BFR’s realization will be a turning point in human exploration of space.

    Like

  5. SpaceX has cancelled the falcon heavy flight that was planned to send paying customers around the moon. The falcon heavy is not rated for human flight and would have significant developement costs to achieve this. The flight has been moved to the BFR as most of the engineering resources have been transitioned to the developement of the BFR.

    Like

    • Hi Kirby,

      You are correct that the Falcon Heavy is not suitable for human flight. However, the Dragon spacecraft is currently under finalization with modifications to allow human flight thanks to an agreement with NASA.

      You can read more on this from SpaceX’s website here: http://www.spacex.com/crew-dragon

      Thank you for showing interest in my article and giving your input!

      -Ally

      Like

  6. Outstanding article, Ally! Wondering what was happening with SpaceX.

    Liked by 1 person

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: