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Simplify SpaceX: Elon Musk’s quick guide to space companies

The rocket company SpaceX, founded by technology billionaire Elon Musk, was created with a mission to bring humans to Mars.For nearly two decades, it has NASA astronaut enters orbit And many other milestones were completed in the process.


When the Falcon Heavy was launched, Elon Musk was photographed by National Geographic magazine.

Video screenshot by Amanda Kooser/CNET

If you have trouble keeping up with SpaceX’s plan, Replace international airline flights with orbital rocket travel, Create Global broadband network And develop a Martian rocket, don’t worry. We created this SpaceX starter so you can get started quickly.

How SpaceX started

In 2002, Musk and his friends went to Russia to purchase refurbished intercontinental ballistic missiles. The Silicon Valley Wizards once distinguished millions of Internet start-ups, and did not want to start a company at the time. He wants to spend a large sum of money to do special effects, and he hopes this will stimulate people̵

7;s interest in funding NASA and space exploration.

The idea was to buy Russian rockets cheaply and use it to send plants or mice to Mars-and hope to bring them back. Ideally, this spectacle will make the world excited about space again. But Musk’s meeting in Moscow did not go smoothly. He decided that he could build the rocket himself and calculated that he could weaken the existing launch contractor in the process. SpaceX was founded only a few months later.

What is the Falcon 9 rocket?

Musk initially hoped to enter Mars before 2010, but it took 6 years to get a rocket into orbit.A kind SpaceX Falcon 1 Orbiting Earth It debuted on September 28, 2008. This paved the way for the 9-engine version of the rocket Falcon 9 (the company’s main horse). Since its first launch in 2010.

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The Falcon 9 is a two-stage orbital rocket that has been used to launch satellites to companies and governments, supplement energy for the International Space Station, and even launch satellites. U.S. Air Force’s ultra secret space plane Perform its mysterious long mission. In the past nine years, the company has performed more than 80 Falcon 9 missions.

What really makes Falcon 9 stand out is its unprecedented ability to send a payload into orbit and then return it to Earth in its first stage, thereby landing on or on the ground. Drone floating on the sea landing pad, This is another innovation of SpaceX. After several failed explosion attempts, Falcon 9 finally landed safely on December 22, 2015, and a few months later, another drone landed for the first time. After that, several recovered Falcon 9 rockets flew and landed again.

On May 11, 2018, SpaceX first launched Falcon 9 rocket 5 seats, The “final version”, designed to be reused up to 100 times through regular renovations. In 2020, we witnessed the launch of the Falcon 9 booster and landing for the seventh time in his personal career. Repeated use of nose cones has also become common practice.

Flying dragon

SpaceX’s Dragon spacecraft has been used to transport cargo to the International Space Station, and on May 31, 2020, its Crew Dragon became the first commercial spacecraft in history to send astronauts Bob Behnken and Doug Hurley to the International Space Station. . Dragon is also the first commercial spacecraft recovered after traveling from orbit.

Since the end of the Space Shuttle program, NASA has chosen Crew Dragon and Boeing’s Starliner to be the first spacecraft to transport astronauts to the International Space Station.The initiative suffered a setback in April 2019 when it was uninhabited Crew Dragon exploded in ground test Because the booster system is leaking.

However, the first flight of the “Crew Dragon” boarded by the crew was successful. Then Hurley and Baconken ride the dragon back to earth A few months later, another group of four astronauts, including JAXA from Japan, flew in the Crew Dragon for the second time in November 2020.

Falcon heavy lifting

SpaceX attracted a lot of attention in February 2018 Launch Falcon Heavy, This is the most powerful rocket launched by the United States since Saturn V. It brought astronauts to the moon. Basically, three Falcon 9 rockets were bundled together, and the huge launch system launched a test payload consisting of Musk’s personal red Tesla Roadster in the direction of Mas. Two of the three Falcon 9s that make up the Falcon Heavy landed at Cape Canaveral, Florida, almost simultaneously.

15 years after his first trip to Moscow, Musk finally got rid of the international vision he had conceived in 2001, and in the process also established a viable business.

The Falcon Heavy was launched for the second time on April 11, 2019, and all three first-stage rockets subsequently landed successfully for the first time. The third launch of Falcon Heavy took place on June 25, 2019. SpaceX has further improved the reusability Capture payload fairing (A spaceship equipped with a huge net cover) (a nose cone that blocks the payload during launch).

As for Starman, he finally made one Close pass to Mars in October 2020

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How to follow a falcon flight

You can watch each release of Falcon 9 and Falcon Heavy through the company’s website and YouTube channel. There are also many in CNET Highlights. Each broadcast usually starts live broadcast approximately 15 minutes before the scheduled launch time.

To keep up with the ever-changing launch schedule, the best source is the SpaceX Twitter feed. If you haven’t already, it’s also a good idea to follow Musk’s account. You can also check our own SpaceX story feed to quickly understand the company’s development.

Moon and Mars spacecraft

SpaceX plans to use Falcon Heavy to launch some large payloads in the next few months, but it is already using a larger rocket called Starship (previously known as BFR, Big Falcon Rocket or Big F***ing Rocket) . Musk hopes that this larger rocket will be able to transport goods and eventually human passengers to the world and the solar system.He envisioned using “interstellar ships” to transport people Super fast international flights in space Eventually arrive at bases that have not yet been built on the moon, Mars and other places.

Single engine The prototype of the interstellar spacecraft is called Starhopper For the first time on July 25, 2019, it hovered about 20 meters (66 feet) above the ground and then landed a short distance at SpaceX’s test facility in southern Texas. Next comes more hops in late 2019 and mid-2020.

The first high-altitude flight of a prototype that looks more like a rocket took place on December 10, 2020. Prototype SN8 successfully flew Ascend to a cruising altitude similar to that of a commercial jet, then perform a new rollover maneuver to land. However, it came quickly, and the flight ended with a spectacular explosion. We hope to see more such high-altitude flight tests in 2021, with the goal of making it land and reach orbit as soon as possible.

SpaceX SN8 flies high and has difficulty landing.

SpaceX/CNET video capture by Jackson Ryan

Musk presented his plans for a big city on Mars at two international aviation conferences, But he has not provided many details about the living conditions on the “Red Planet”. He said that SpaceX mainly wants to provide transportation services while making others worry about infrastructure. However, company president Gwynne Shotwell (Gwynne Shotwell) said that SpaceX sister companies may make sense. Boring company, drilling a tunnel on Mars Can be used for human habitation.

Paul Wooster, chief engineer of the company’s Mars program, said at the 2018 Mars Society meeting, The first people sent to the Red Planet will live on the landed spacecraft Build residential areas, landing areas and other initial infrastructure indefinitely.

Starlight Attractions

SpaceX is not only committed to bringing things into space. It has also begun to operate in space to bring the universe to us. In May 2019, the company Launched the first batch of 60 small satellites Designed to lead a large-scale broadband satellite constellation.The plan is called Starlink will use up to 42,000 satellites in low earth orbit Cover the world with high-speed Internet. The company said that this service can create a new source of revenue to help its expensive Martian ambitions.

Six months later, the second batch of 50 satellites were launched into space, and then more were launched at a relatively fast rate. The scale of the project makes some astronomers worry that the sky full of thousands of satellites will interfere with their observations.The train of the newly launched satellite is Easy to see from the ground When they gain height. SpaceX said it plans to cooperate with astronomers and take measures to mitigate Starlink’s impact on astronomy, including launching satellites with sunshades called “visorsat” to reduce their reflectivity.

While the company is working hard to launch the first 1,000 Starlink satellites, Launched a beta version of broadband service It is limited to northern latitudes in the last quarter of 2020. It is expected to expand in 2021.

What’s next?

Since its inception, SpaceX’s goal is to reach Mars, but the company has participated in projects on Earth that have nothing to do with space, such as high-speed Hyperloop transit concept.Musk Tunnelling company The joint ventures to ease traffic also basically operate outside of SpaceX’s headquarters in Southern California.

Unlike Tesla Motors, another large Musk company, SpaceX is not publicly traded. Musk said that until the company realizes its ambitions on Mars, he does not intend to list SpaceX publicly. This means that SpaceX may at the same time become the home of any other Muskian side projects in the future, such as Hyperloop and Boring Company.

Originally released on June 2, 2018, and updated with the new development of SpaceX.

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