VIDEO: The Incredible Journey of Elon Musk — The Story Of SpaceX

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In 2001, Musk conceptualized “Mars Oasis”; a project to land a miniature experimental greenhouse on Mars, containing food crops growing on Martian regolith, in an attempt to regain public interest in space exploration.

In October 2001, Musk traveled to Moscow with Jim Cantrell (an aerospace supplies fixer), and Adeo Ressi (his best friend from college), to buy refurbished Dnepr Intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBMs) that could send the envisioned payloads into space. The group met with companies such as NPO Lavochkin and Kosmotras; however, according to Cantrell, Musk was seen as a novice and was consequently spat on by one of the Russian chief designers and the group returned to the United States empty-handed.

In February 2002, the group returned to Russia to look for three ICBMs, bringing along Mike Griffin. Griffin had worked for the CIA’s venture capital arm, In-Q-Tel, as well as NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, and was just leaving Orbital Sciences, a maker of satellites and spacecraft. The group met again with Kosmotras and were offered one rocket for US$8 million, however, this was seen by Musk as too expensive; Musk consequently stormed out of the meeting. On the flight back from Moscow, Musk realized that he could start a company that could build the affordable rockets he needed. According to early Tesla and SpaceX investor Steve Jurvetson, Musk calculated that the raw materials for building a rocket actually were only 3 percent of the sales price of a rocket at the time.

It was concluded that theoretically, by applying vertical integration and the modular approach from software engineering, SpaceX could cut launch price by a factor of ten and still enjoy a 70-percent gross margin. Ultimately, Musk ended up founding SpaceX with the long-term goal of creating a “true spacefaring civilization”.

With US$100 million of his early fortune, Musk founded Space Exploration Technologies, or SpaceX, in May 2002.

Musk is chief executive officer (CEO) and chief technology officer (CTO) of the Hawthorne, California-based company. SpaceX develops and manufactures space launch vehicles with a focus on advancing the state of rocket technology. The company’s first two launch vehicles are the Falcon 1 and Falcon 9 rockets (a nod to Star Wars’ Millennium Falcon), and its first spacecraft is the Dragon (a nod to Puff the Magic Dragon).

In seven years, SpaceX designed the family of Falcon launch vehicles and the Dragon multipurpose spacecraft. In September 2008, SpaceX’s Falcon 1 rocket became the first privately funded liquid-fueled vehicle to put a satellite into Earth orbit.

On May 25, 2012, the SpaceX Dragon vehicle berthed with the ISS, making history as the first commercial company to launch and berth a vehicle to the International Space Station.

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3 replies
  1. Bob
    Bob says:

    Anyone saying “we will go to Mars, so donate some money!” is a sham. Ten percent of the world’s oceans haven’t even been explored, and these people want to go to Mars? No offense but NASA isn’t always the most honest organization. It has been caught in the past to doctor photos, “Mars Rover Landings”, etc. And considering the current state of our technology, people exiting the Earth’s orbit and atmosphere protection from gamma rays will ultimately mean certain death, not including the other issues such as fuel shortages, life support, distance, and space debris/other life threatening challenges. Take for example the Fukushima nuclear reactor leak of March 2011, why couldn’t the so-called radiation protective suits be given from NASA or the other ‘super’ space agencies? Why is it that every robotic drone gets fried when leak repairs were attempted? Take another instance, the Chernobyl disaster– robotic drones at the time ended up getting fried as well, yet where was the space suits that were used to survive the Sun’s gamma rays of the moon landings from decades before?

    It’s all hogwash, it was merely the US trying to show off its “space race” capabilities against the USSR at the time.

    • Bob
      Bob says:

      FYI NASA is more concerned with making useless space-promo films than trying to improve technological capabilities. Instead, thugs from Edison tried to rob Tesla’s inventions and kill him. harboring Nazi-era scientists may not have been the best idea either. Considering the shuttle accidents that have occurred over the last few decades, it is no surprise that our current state of an “honest” government have fallen from grace.

  2. Bob
    Bob says:

    You would think somebody that is connected to the US missile defense and space craft technology, and think-tank group going to Moscow and making deals with the Russians as “collusion.” But nobody seems to question anything there, let’s all assume a private billionaire disclosed nothing, and instead is using the guise of a ‘research/talent’ program like Lieber’s Chinese nano-tech siphoning. What is up with foreign nationals and US tech being leaked so much? From Bill Clinton to global billionaires, everything seems to be given like a hot buffet.


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