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Listed as the 31st richest person in the world by Forbes Magazine as of June 2020, Elon Musk is truly a youth icon we always wanted. An engineer by profession, Elon is also an entrepreneur and a well-known philanthropist who is frequently seen giving TEDx talks. An overachiever from the start, Elon has won lot of accolades in his life for his out-of-the-box approach and thinking.
Elon received his bachelor’s degree in economics from Wharton University. He has also earned a bachelor’s degree in physics from the college of arts and science. In the 1994, Musk held two internships in Silicon Valley. First one was at an energy storage start-up called Pinnacle Research Institute, which researched electrolytic ultra-capacitors for energy storage, and the other was at the Palo Alto-based start-up Rocket Science Games.
His ‘Mission to Mars’ notion gained a lot of publicity globally. Founded and led by Elon himself, SpaceX is the first private space transportation company that is specifically built to achieve that long term dream. Elon was ranked on the Forbes list of the Most Innovative Leaders of 2019. Elon was born and raised in Pretoria, South Africa, and moved to Canada when he was 17 to attend the Queen's University.
Founded in 2002, SpaceX is an American aerospace manufacturer and space transportation services company headquartered in Hawthorne, California. Elon’s primary goal with SpaceX is to reduce space transportation costs so as to enable human colonization on Mars. Some of the major accomplishments of SpaceX are in the reuse of orbital-class launch vehicles and cost reduction in the space launch industry.
SpaceX became the first privately funded company to launch liquid-fuelled rocket ‘Falcon 1’ that successfully reached orbit on September 28, 2008. Since then SpaceX has achieved a lot of ‘firsts’. For example, first to send a satellite into geosynchronous orbit, first to develop a liquid-fuelled rocket to put a commercial satellite in orbit etc.
On May 30, 2020, SpaceX successfully managed to launch a spacecraft Crew Dragon Demo-2 with two astronauts into the orbit. NASA administrator Jim Bridenstine lauded this achievement quoting it as the ‘Foundation for a new Era in Human Spaceflight.’
SpaceX refers to Starship as a fully reusable transportation system designed to carry both crew and cargo to Earth orbit, the Moon, Mars and beyond. Built with a height of almost 394 feet and diameter of 30 feet, Starship will be the world’s most powerful launch vehicle. So, what is the reason behind developing this enormous vehicle?
Starship is believed to have a number of uses apart from being a space tourism vehicle. It will also work as reusable launch system. It is designed to facilitate human colonization on Mars. It is also believed to work as a multiplanetary and intercontinental transport. It will be propelled from Earth in such a man that it enters Mars’ atmosphere at 7.5 kilometers per second and decelerates aerodynamically.
Post the successful launch of the astronauts in May, 2020, Elon wrote an email to SpaceX employees requesting to consider Starship as the top SpaceX priority. According to the top news reporting website cnbc.com, SpaceX has managed to raise nearly $1.7 billion since the beginning of the year 2019 with its valuation rising to around $36 billion.
The universe is infinite. Each mission to the space is a new challenge and a new attempt at discovering the unknown. It is also a step towards gaining a better understanding of the world and its origin. This urge for the unknown is not limited to the astronauts or those who work at NASA and SpaceX, it also lies within common people. Even the common man dreams to explore the space.
With an aim to fulfil this goal, SpaceX’s privately funded lunar mission has selected Yusaku Maezawa as their first private passenger to fly around moon in the year 2023. Yusaku is a Japnese fashion innovator and globally recognized art curator. This selection was publicly announced on September 17, 2018.
This first private lunar passenger flight is believed to be an enabling step toward creating space travel accessible to the common citizen. This flight will feature a fly-by to the Moon and will fund the development of SpaceX’s Starship and Super Heavy transportation rockets.
Mission to Mars
The dream to make humans a multi-planetary species has been the dream of scientists since a long time. Mars is the only planet that strikingly resembles Earth’s habitat. This makes it the “next best option” after moon for human civilization. With a diameter of 6,791 km and force of gravity almost 38 percent of that of Earth, it’s actually no longer a surprise that it is being considered as our new home.
Starship is specifically built to achieve this long term goal of reaching Mars and thus other planets into our vast solar system. The overall external shield of Starship has been carefully designed taking into consideration Mars’ unpredicted hot temperature. The SpaceX plans to send this launch vehicle into 6 steps which is demonstrated quite well on their website.
The Starship is composed of a reusable methalox staged-combustion engine called as ‘The Raptor’. The flight testing for this engine on Starship prototype began last year in the month of July. Raptor is presently considered as the first full-flow staged combustion rocket engine to have ever taken flight from Earth.
This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.
© 2020 Shruti Nimbkar