A look at Elon Musk’s rocket company’s headquarters in Hawthorne, California will give you an idea of how the company that aims to colonize Mars works.
The future isn’t one thing; it’s many things, Musk says on SpaceX’s website.
Before going into SpaceX, some background
SpaceX is an aerospace manufacturer and space transport services company headquartered in Hawthorne, California. It was founded in 2002 by entrepreneur Elon Musk with the goal of reducing space transportation costs and enabling the colonization of Mars. SpaceX has since developed a variety of spacecraft and launch vehicles including Falcon 1, Falcon 9, Dragon, and Falcon Heavy; All with varying success. In 2008, SpaceX’s Falcon 1 became the first privately-developed liquid-fueled vehicle to achieve orbit. Next up SpaceX tested its Dragon crew capsule which ferry astronauts to and from International Space Station as early as 2017.
Founded in 2002 by entrepreneur Elon Musk, and with its headquarters in Hawthorne, California, SpaceX has already captured a great deal of public attention and interest. Its primary products are rockets and spacecraft which are used for delivering satellites into orbit. Its first four rockets were all used successfully: The Falcon 1 rocket launched on 28 September 2008; it was retired in 2010 after making three launches; two were successful, and one was unsuccessful. The Falcon 9 made its maiden flight on 4 June 2010. All nine versions of Falcon 9 have been successfully flown to date; four have launched commercial payloads into Earth orbit and another seven carry Dragon cargo spacecraft to resupply the International Space Station (ISS) under contract to NASA.
Why Elon Musk Started Space Exploration
In 2001, Elon Musk was so frustrated by NASA’s failure to deliver a single launch on time that he decided to do something about it. His solution: start his own space exploration company from scratch—one that would be different in almost every way imaginable. SpaceX has come a long way since then, and today they are much more than just an aerospace company — they are a global leader in technology innovation. But how did it all begin? Let’s take a look inside Musk’s rocket factory and see what makes them so different… For starters, how many other aerospace companies can say they were born inside a multibillion-dollar underground bunker?
A single one of their rockets can put over 100,000 pounds into low Earth orbit. That’s more than twice as much weight as NASA’s biggest rockets can take up, and enough to hold two entire cars. Each of their rockets also cost less than $100 million dollars (and some were even just $60 million). Other aerospace companies don’t come close on either count. It all started when Musk decided he wanted to start his own space exploration company in 2001, at a time when NASA was struggling to meet its obligations. With only a high school diploma and a net worth of only $200,000 to his name, he started SpaceX inside what looked like an abandoned hangar at a decommissioned military base in El Segundo, California.
Inside the Launch Control Center
The Launch Control Center (LCC) is like a NASA control room, except it’s smaller and one of only two that SpaceX operates. The LCC controls every launch from a few minutes before liftoff to several minutes after launch. Inside, there are at least 100 people either watching monitors or looking out windows at various stages during liftoff. Despite being incredibly busy with so many eyes on screens and buttons being pushed, Musk says if anything were to go wrong in flight there’s no loudspeaker that goes off saying: ‘Emergency! Emergency! Abort! Abort!’ If something is going wrong, they just sort of calmly say: ‘OK we need to fix that.’
Overall, it’s a very calm and relaxed environment. That’s what helps create a feeling of safety for those insides. Musk believes that if you make things feel safe enough people will have faith in your mission. ‘I think we all have some sense of risk in our lives,’ he says. ‘Even if you drive to work every day, there is some risk associated with that. If people are not comfortable with risk then they should not be here.
Inside the Falcon Factory
Elon Musk, CEO of Tesla and SpaceX, has an insane job. When Musk isn’t cruising in his electric car or rocketing through space with a dummy playing his original role as Starman, he’s inside one of two massive buildings that house his high-tech companies, known as SpaceX and Tesla. On Tuesday, Business Insider was given a tour inside both buildings by members of SpaceX who showed us around for about an hour after normal business hours. It was INSANE! Here are some of our favourite things we saw inside Elon Musk’s headquarters for both companies
Where else can you see a 21-story glass cube, watch a car get made by robots and walk into a room where people are developing rockets to go to Mars? We took our tour on Tuesday, which was just hours after Elon Musk’s historic launch of Falcon Heavy— when he launched his Tesla roadster into space. Musk has said that he wants SpaceX to develop technology that will allow humans to live on other planets in case Earth becomes uninhabitable. It all sounds crazy, but as soon as you visit one of Musk’s headquarters buildings and you walk around inside them, you start to understand why he thinks it might actually happen. Elon Musk is amazing!
Inside the Dragon Factory
Yes, yes, we know: Teslas are for douchebags. But did you ever stop to think about where those sweet, sweet electric cars are actually made? The answer is Hawthorne, California—and no, that’s not a misprint. Elon Musk’s company has a secret facility right in plain sight next to Los Angeles International Airport. Inside, it looks like something straight out of an Austin Powers movie (no wonder they went with Space Balls). Keep your eyes peeled when passing by on one of LAX’s nearby runways and if you see a tall structure topped with what looks like solar panels surrounded by glass domes…YEP.
The so-called Dragon Factory is a state-of-the-art, 400,000 square foot structure. There are a few cool things that you probably don’t know about it though: First, in an attempt to make sure no paparazzi sneak into production areas and take photos of their sleek prototypes before they’re ready to be released to consumers, every window—yes, every single one—in the Dragon Factory has been painted black. Second, if Musk himself shows up at any given moment and is unsatisfied with how something is going at his headquarters (say production of solar panels or power electronics) he may break out some crayons and just sketch new designs on whatever wall he deems appropriate. Also?
Inside SpaceX HQ
The headquarters is near Hawthorne, California, about 15 miles south of Los Angeles. It has a 5-acre campus and looks like something out of a sci-fi movie, which is kind of is. Since Elon Musk founded the company in 2002, he has spent $500 million building a massive launch facility here and creating advanced rocketry that can send people to Mars. His stated goal: colonize Mars with 80,000 people within 100 years or so. What I really want to try to achieve here is to make life multi-planetary, he told me when I visited earlier this year. It’s important that we at least try.
Elon Musk, a South African-born billionaire and visionary futurist, has often said that he wants to die on Mars. But he has also famously spoken about his desire to come back to Earth if at all possible. Musk doesn’t view himself as unique in being driven by ambition; instead, he says that such inspiration is universal among humans. If you’re inspired by something more than survival—like going to space or curing cancer—then that is enough of a reason for most people to try, he told me during our conversation at SpaceX HQ. It doesn’t need an enormous amount of money. You don’t need billions of dollars in order to do it — or even millions of dollars — but you need enough money that you feel like you’ve got a shot at it.
Inside SpaceX’s headquarters was extremely interesting. The tour goes inside and showcases some of their original ideas and products such as the launchpad, engineering floor and more. This would be a great place to work with such an idea centre.
I can only imagine working in such a futuristic building. If you have plans to be an engineer, working at SpaceX would be a great learning opportunity and just being around some of their amazing ideas in general. This would definitely be one of my dream jobs to work at. Hopefully, I can get a tour there one day, as I would love to see more inside looks at what they do every day! My guess is that it will blow your mind too!
Stay tuned for more exclusive stories about SpaceX! Hopefully, we can provide some amazing content and showcase a different side of them in an entertaining way. I feel like so far most of what I have shown you is their images and commercials for TV, but it would be awesome to see an inside view with videos and other content as well! Thank you guys for reading, as I hope you enjoyed it! Until next time – The Ants Are Coming.
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