Friday, September 11, 2015

An Introduction of sorts

Lately I have become very interested in astronomy, specifically projects planned for the near future.
Be it companies trying to beat Fermi's paradox by making humanity a multi planetary species, or interesting new space propulsion inventions, I am utterly obsessed. This is no passing phase though, the passion I have for this particular area of science is borderline manic. I have spent many nights thinking to myself about the future of the human race. When I look at humanity, I'm amazed. Despite all the bad news that comes out of the main media, I'm still driven by hope that we can do better.

One such company shares the same belief as me, but has taken that belief a whole lot further. They are called SpaceX. SpaceX are lead by a very inspirational man, Elon Musk. He's the guy who was heavily involved in the early days of PayPal, and also owns the Tesla car brand. Tesla make cars than run on renewable sources of energy, and they're pretty damn cool. That's enough about the man though, these blog posts are about the company he runs, SpaceX. They are simply put, a rocket company. The longer explanation involves reusable rockets, making Mars habitable and putting a colony there. Sounds like mad stuff. I'll discuss the costs, benefits and my overall opinion of that in a later post.
Right now, this blog is purely about the company and what they currently do. Currently their main operation mission is a launch service. They launch rockets for private and state based organisations, delivering cargo, and eventually humans to their destination. NASA have a contract with them to send astronauts to the ISS from 2017. Currently American astronauts must use Russian rockets to get their people to and from the space station.

The fun doesn't end there though. SpaceX is not only running a lot of operations to make money. It is also testing new ways of making the industry cheaper. Rocket launches are not cheap, and the restoration period for a lot of the reusable equipment is very long. SpaceX wants to improve this problem. By reducing the cost dramatically and using an innovative approach, they hope to create an service that is reliable, trustworthy and quick. They want to be able to do several launches a month. Most companies can only handle a very small amount of launches a year. It sounds crazy and completely outlandish. How are they going to do it? Reusability. They're in the business to innovate, and that's exactly what they have done. They have rockets that can theoretically be used repeatedly, without any need for restoration. How are they doing this? Once a rocket goes up, it should normally separate and fall back to earth, ideally the ocean. They're working on a rocket descends vertically, using flaps and one of its thrusters to slow it down and keep it stable. That seems bonkers.  The diagram below explains what they plan to do:

That's probably enough information to digest for now. In my next post I plan to discuss the future goals of SpaceX and why they want to go to Mars. 
The bit about colonising Mars will take quite a few posts to explain, but I would recommend viewing the Wait But Why website to read more about it:

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