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.