35 Out of this World Facts about SpaceX
Musk Claims That a SpaceX Launch Will Cost 1 Percent of NASA Launches
SpaceX is not backing down, or going away. Elon Musk and SpaceX have established itself as legitimate partners in space crusades, and we all have taken notice. But what is SpaceX? Here’s the info you need to know, broken down into 35 easy-to-consume facts! Enjoy.
Elon Musk claims that in due time a SpaceX launch will cost only 1 percent of the current cost NASA pays to lift off into space. If SpaceX can deliver, it’d revolutionize space exploration and could spur the massive growth of the space industry. Currently, NASA spends about $150 million on a launch, so a SpaceX launch may someday cost less than $2 million.
SpaceX’s Founder Elon Musk Was Also Name-Dropped in Star Trek
Star Trek Versus Star Wars is one of the oldest “space debates” around. Which is better? Which is geekier? When it comes to Elon Musk, however, Star Trek has been quick to share the love. Musk was name dropped in Star Trek: Discovery as one of the greatest minds in human history. Musk got sandwiched between the Wright Brothers (who flew the first plane) and the guy who invented the warp drive. Not a bad place to be, right?
Investors Valued SpaceX at $33 Billion
Elon Musk owns over half of SpaceX. In dollars, what does that mean? It means a heck of a lot of money. Back in May of 2019, investors valued SpaceX at $33.3 billion dollars in a funding round. Crazily enough, at the time that actually made SpaceX more valuable than Musk’s other company, Tesla.
Elon Musk Inspired Iron Man
Elon Musk is Iron Man, or at least one of the biggest inspirations for the Marvel superhero. While Iron Man has been featured in comics for years, the creative team behind Iron Man wanted to model the tech-billion-slash-superhero on real life personalities. Eccentric, brilliant, confident, and boastful, Elon Musk quickly set the tone for Iron Man. While Elon Musk may never be a superhero, many of his projects do strive to improve humanity and advance social causes.
Parts of Iron Man 2 Were Shot at SpaceX’s California Factory
Speaking of Iron Man, Elon Musk actually made an appearance in Iron Man 2. The two met briefly on the silver screen and congratulated each other for their work. While in our universe, Musk is the top-dog, in the face of Tony Stark/Iron Man, Musk appears to defer to Stark. Still, even with all his advanced technology, Stark did compliment Musk on his Merlin engines. Musk also raised the prospect of an electric jet and Stark promised he’d “make it work.”
SpaceX Uses an Old Boeing Fuselage Factory
Building rockets takes up a lot of space. While SpaceX is now worth billions, in the early years, it was a high-risk venture. Musk and other initial funders provided a lot of capital, but still everyone has limits. Costs needed to be kept reasonable. There’s a reason governments dominated space for so long, that was because they could afford to. The massive factory is situated in Los Angeles and provides more than 500,000 square feet of space. It’s located at the aptly named 1 Rocket Road.
Musk Owns a Majority of SpaceX
Elon Musk owns 54 percent of SpaceX and 78 percent of the voting rights. In other words, his leadership is unassailable. To put this into perspective, Musk owns only about 22 percent of Tesla. It’s rare these days for even billionaires to retain majority ownership of their multi billion dollar companies. SpaceX isn’t traded on markets but private investors have bought shares.
SpaceX Has Received Billions Upon Billions From Uncle Sam
A $33 billion dollar valuation for such a speculative enterprise might seem sky high. However, SpaceX has already received over $12 billion in funding from NASA and the American government alone! By 2015, SpaceX had already received nearly $5 billion in subsidies and other forms of support from Uncle Sam.
SpaceX May Now Employ More People Than Russia’s Space Agency
Roscosmos employs roughly 5,000 employees. SpaceX employs rouhgly 7,000 people.
Elon Musk’s SpaceX Office is a Cubicle
As you already know, SpaceX uses an old Boeing Fuselage Factory. That provides plenty of space for manufacturing, construction, design, and all the like. Office space, however, was in short supply. Not to worry, SpaceX uses an open floor concept with most employees provided with cubicles on the shop floor. Elon Musk himself has such a cubicle, a reminder that SpaceX is a team effort.
SpaceX Was First Private Organization to Reach the International Space Station
Back in 2012, not long after SpaceX first reached the “final frontier”, a Dragon cargo spacecraft successfully reached and docked with the International Space Station. Up until then, only a few major governments, including the United States, Russia, and the European Union, had reached the ISS. Now, SpaceX has been selected as one of three non-government entities to supply the International Space Station.
SpaceX Will Also Send People to the International Space Station
SpaceX hasn’t yet put a person in space. Eventually, SpaceX aims to send people to the International Space Station. Currently, crews from around the world depend on Russia and their Soyuz craft to reach the International Space Station.
SpaceX’s First Cargo Load Was a Wheel of Cheese
When the Soviets first reached orbit in 1957, they sent a dog by the name of Laika, a stray mongrel from the streets of Moscow that died in flight. In 1959, the United States sent two monkeys, Able and Baker, into space and they successfully survived reentry. In 2010, SpaceX made its first foray into space and sent… a wheel of cheese. Tesla’s payloads so far haven’t included living creatures but expect that to change soon.
The Crew Dragon Will Be the “Tesla” of Spacecrafts
If you’ve ever ridden or sat in a Tesla than you’ll know that they’re both quite luxurious and austere, with toned down, simple but beautiful styling. Luxury through simplicity, you could say. The Crew Dragon spacecraft is adopting a similar approach. It’ll feature a luxurious, comfortable and clean interior.
The Crew Dragon Will Also Offer Climate Control
Not only will the Crew Dragon offer a luxurious ride into space, the climate control will be top notch as well. Astronauts will be able to enjoy any temperature they select between about 65 and 80 degrees Fahrenheit. Why shouldn’t Earth’s bravest explorers enjoy the same temperature controls as your average Tesla driver?
SpaceX Wants to Ferry 1,000 People From City to City
Musk believes that one day SpaceX rockets could quickly ferry people around from city-to-city. In fact, as many as 1,000 people may fly on a Tesla rocket at any given time. Flying through space would actually be much quicker than through the atmosphere. A direct flight from London to Sydney currently takes about 20 hours. Through space? Just four hours.
SpaceX Put the First Car in Space
SpaceX got beat to the moon by several decades. Still, they hold the claim for putting the first car into space. In 2018, the first Falcon Heavy headed into space with a very unique payload, a Tesla Roadster, making it the first car in space (although the Moon Roving Vehicle was the first human driven four-wheeler in space).
SpaceX has About $7 Billion in Private Satellite Contracts
SpaceX doesn’t rely on NASA for all of its funding. Far from it. SpaceX currently has contracts with a variety of companies to put satellites into space. In total, these contracts are believed to be worth roughly $7 billion dollars.
SpaceX “Starship” Launch Vehicle Could Be the Biggest Vessel to Ever Reach Space
SpaceX’s Starship launch vehicle will easily dwarf the rockets that flew NASA’s Space Shuttle into space. Standing nearly 400 feet tall and measuring over 30 feet wide, Starship may end up being the largest launch vehicle to reach orbit, bigger than even the massive Saturn V rockets launched in the 1960s and 1970s.
Starship Will Use Tesla Batteries
While the main engines will be more conventional, batteries will still be very useful for supplying electricity for various functions. Of course, given that a majority of SpaceX is owned by Elon Musk, it makes sense that the space company would use Tesla batteries. In fact, Musk said it’d be “embarrassing” if the company used any other batteries.
Musk Wants to Create an Environmentally Friendly Rocket
An all-electric rocket is probably impossible. However, that doesn’t mean that SpaceX and Musk don’t want to make a more environmentally friendly rocket. Far from it, SpaceX wants to eventually create a carbon-neutral rocket. As the rocket blasts through the atmosphere, it’ll collect carbon, which will later be converted into fuel.
SpaceX Was an Easter Egg in Mass Effect: Andromeda
In the popular video game Mass Effect: Andromeda, players have to assume the role of the “Pathfinder,” who is the leader of an expedition set on colonizing a new world. If you take control of the main character and head to your private quarters, you can find a SpaceX model in a cubby at the back of the room. Use the in-game Codex and you’ll find out that SpaceX, not Nasa, was the most important catalyst for helping humanity reach the stars.
SpaceX is Building a “BFR”
Excuse our French, but this is on SpaceX. The space company is building a BFR rocket, which stands for Big (insert any word that begins with ‘F’) Rocket.
SpaceX’s Crew Dragon Will Feature an Abort System
On January 28, 1986 the Space Shuttle Challenger exploded during liftoff, approximately 48,000 feet above the Earth. All seven crew members, including teacher Christa McAuliffe, were killed. If SpaceX has its way, such accidents will be preventable in the future. The Crew Dragon will feature an abort system that will allow the crew to escape unharmed so long as they abort before reaching orbit. This would make space travel much safer.
SpaceX Has Its Sights on Mars
SpaceX has far grander ambitions than remaining near the Earth. The company wants to reach the so-called “Red Planet” in the near future. SpaceX wants to send an unmanned flight in 2022 and a manned flight in 2024. While SpaceX may not hit these ambitious timelines, don’t be surprised if the company does reach Mars.
SpaceX Wasn’t the First Private Company to Reach Space
Many people believe SpaceX was the first private company to reach space. While SpaceX did win a competition with several other private companies to reach space and build reusable rockets, commercial companies have been launching satellites for several years. However, most of these companies are restricted to satellites. SpaceX wants to put manned missions into space soon. SpaceX does launch satellites as well but that is only one part of their business.
SpaceX Consistently Comes in Under Budget
The company consistently comes in under budget. And its technologies are already much cheaper than government equivalents. The Falcon 9 rocket, for example, cost just a third of what NASA estimates it would have cost to build. NASA ended up contributing $381 million for said rocket. Best of all, SpaceX has never been accused of cutting corners or taking unnecessary risks.
Still, NASA Gave Boeing $2 Billion More for the Same Contract
SpaceX and Boeing both have pretty much identical contracts from NASA to deliver flight crews to the International Space Station. While, identical that they will deliver the same number of crew members over similar time frames. However, SpaceX is getting paid just $2.5 billion while Boeing is getting $4.3 billion.
SpaceX’s Mission Control is in the Same Factory, Near the Kitchen
SpaceX launches rockets for Cape Canaveral in Florida but mission control is at the company’s main headquarters in California. The mission control is in the same repurposed Boeing factory, and in fact, is located pretty close to the kitchen. You can swing in for your lunch or a cup of coffee, then head to mission control for a rocket launch.
SpaceX Wants to Put 40,000 Satellites Into Space
Roughly 10,000 satellites have been put into space so far. That’s a huge number, but according to documents filed with authorities, SpaceX has far, far grander plans. The company wants to put at least 30,000 small satellites into space in the near future. That’s on top of the 12,000 satellites the company has already received permission for. So far, SpaceX has put just 60 of its own satellites into space, so the company is a long way off from achieving its ambitions.
SpaceX’s “Falcon” Rocket Ships Are Named After the Millennium Falcon
Elon Musk is known for being quite the nerd. It should come as no surprise then that SpaceX’s “Falcon” rocket series is named after the Millennium Falcon, perhaps the most well known ship from the Star Wars universe. While SpaceX hasn’t done a kessel run in 12 parsecs like the Millennial Falcon, SpaceX will continue to shoot for the stars. For now, most of us will be viewing the galaxy far, far away through our TVs.
Starlink Could Provide Internet Across the Globe
Most of the 40,000 satellites SpaceX plans to put into space are planned to be used to support “Starlink”, which will be a truly global internet provider. The idea is to stream Internet from satellites. This technology already exists but is not in widespread use. Starlink could change that, providing Internet access everywhere and anywhere. Currently, only about 60 percent of people on Earth have access to Internet.
A SpaceX Rocket Blew Up in 2016
SpaceX has a great track record. However, in 2016 one SpaceX rocket did blow up. Shockingly enough, the rocket didn’t explode during take off but instead while being fueled. Fortunately, no one was killed but the accident was a huge setback for SpaceX. Some speculate that it may have been sabotage and that someone may have shot the rocket. It appears, however, that the most likely culprit was the pressure vessel located in the second-stage liquid oxygen tank.
SpaceX Literally Beamed “Scotty” Up
“Beam me up Scotty!” is one of the most iconic lines in cinema history. Muttered by Captain Kirk and others throughout the Star Trek saga, the famous catchphrase involved teleporting people across vast distances, usually from a spaceship to a planet, or vice versa. Of course, teleportation is fiction. Yet SpaceX actually sent Montgomery “Scotty” Scott’s ashes into space! Scott played “Scotty” in the original Star Trek.