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SpaceX

What is SpaceX?

Space Exploration Technologies Corp., known as SpaceX, is an American aerospace company that manufactures and operates launch vehicles, satellites and spacecraft. They have two operating launch vehicles, Falcon 9 and Falcon Heavy, with a third - Starship - currently in development.

Who is the founder of SpaceX?

Elon Musk is the founder of SpaceX.
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When was SpaceX founded?

SpaceX was founded in May 2002 (18 years ago). To start SpaceX, Elon Musk used a large share of the financial proceeds he received from the sale of his stake in PayPal when it was acquired by eBay in 2002. It's estimated he invested upwards of $100 million into the company during the early years to get it started.

What is the SpaceX Falcon 9?

Falcon 9 is a mostly reusable 70 meter (230 ft) tall, two-stage, medium-lift vehicle, capable of transporting crew and cargo to orbit in tandem with the Dragon spacecraft. It is the first reusable orbital-class rocket, using onboard cold gas thrusters and titanium grid fins for control on re-entry.

The first stage uses nine Merlin engines, with the second stage using one Merlin engine. It can deliver a payload of 22,800 kg (50,265 lb) to low Earth orbit, or 8,300 kg (18,300 lb) to geostationary transfer orbit.

There have been three major versions of Falcon 9, along with numerous minor versions. The current version is 1.2 Block 5. It is also available in a heavy-lift three rocket configuration.

Development of Falcon 9 was announced in 2005, with the first test flight on June 4, 2010.

What is the SpaceX Falcon Heavy?

Falcon Heavy is a mostly reusable, 70 meter (230 feet) tall, two-stage, heavy-lift vehicle that consists of three structurally connected Falcon 9 rockets. The first stage utilizes 27 Merlin engines as boosters, while the second stage of the center core rocket includes one Merlin engine. Falcon Heavy generates 22,819 kilonewtons (5 million lb) of thrust at liftoff and can carry a payload of 63,800 kg (140,654 lb) to low Earth orbit, or 26,700 kg (58,863 lb) to geostationary transfer orbit.

As of August 2020 Falcon Heavy has flown three times. The inaugural flight occurred on February 6, 2018. The first commercial payload was the Arabsat 6A communications satellite, which launched on April 11, 2019.

How many versions of Falcon 9 are there?

There have been three major versions of Falcon 9, along with the Falcon Heavy configuration.

The Falcon 9 v1.0, Falcon 9 v1.1 and Falcon 9 v1.2 (also known as the Full Thrust version). The Falcon 9 v1.2 has had several incremented block versions, with the latest being the Block 5 version. The Falcon Heavy has had two versions, the original of which consisted of three Falcon 9 v1.2 rockets and the Falcon Heavy B5 which consists of three Falcon 9 v1.2 Block 5 rockets.

What is the SpaceX Starship?

Starship is an in-development, fully reusable, two-stage, super-heavy-lift space launch system consisting of a spacecraft and super heavy rocket. It will utilize 28 Raptor engines with the first stage rocket, and six Raptor engines with the second stage spacecraft. It is able to carry a payload greater than 100,000 kg (220,462 lb) to low earth orbit.

The complete launch system will stand 120 meters (394 ft) tall, with a diameter of 9 meters (30 ft). It will largely be constructed of inexpensive stainless steel.

Starship has been selected by NASA to be part of the Artemis program, which will seek to land astronauts on the Moon beginning in 2024.

SpaceX began development of Starship in 2012. To date there have been three early stage test flights, consisting of short duration hops.

What is the SpaceX Dragon?

Dragon 2 is a multi-configuration spacecraft, 8.1 meters (26.5 ft) tall by 4 meters (13 ft) in diameter with a 6,000 kg (13,228 lb) launch mass. Crew Dragon is designed to carry up to seven passengers to Earth orbit and back. Cargo Dragon is for hauling cargo to and from space, for example to the International Space Station (ISS). It can be configured to carry fewer human passengers along with cargo. Dragon 2 is the first private spacecraft to take human passengers to the ISS. The first version of Dragon was a cargo-only spacecraft. Dragon 1's first orbital flight was in December 2010 and Dragon 2's first oribital flight was in March 2019. The first crewed version of Dragon 2 successfully launched to the ISS on May 30, 2020, and returned to Earth safely on August 2, 2020.

What is Starlink?

SpaceX Starlink is a low Earth orbit constellation of satellites to deliver low latency broadband Internet access to consumers globally.

The US Federal Communications Commission has approved up to 12,000 satellites for Starlink and up to one million ground receiver antenna. SpaceX has sought approval from the International Telecommunication Union for up to 42,000 satellites. For comparison, as of 2020 less than 9,000 total objects have been launched into space.

Initially Starlink is targeting service for the northern US and Canada in 2020, with the goal to expand to global coverage in 2021.

What was the SpaceX Falcon 1?

Falcon 1 was a two-stage, expendable space launch vehicle that was 21.3 meters (70 feet) tall and 1.7 meters (5.5 feet) in diameter. It had a 670 kg (1,480 lb) payload capacity for low Earth orbit.

The first successful Falcon 1 launch was September 28, 2008 at the US Army's Ballistic Defense Test Site on the Kwajalein Atoll. Prior to that, the first three Falcon 1 launches all failed to reach orbit. The successful flight of the Falcon 1 was a prerequisite to the survival of SpaceX. Elon Musk has said that SpaceX would have likely gone bankrupt if the fourth flight had failed.

How many rockets has SpaceX launched?

As of August 2020, SpaceX has performed 99 total launches, including 91 for Falcon 9, three for Falcon Heavy, and five for Falcon 1. That includes three Falcon 9 launch failures and three Falcon 1 launch failures.

What is the SpaceX Merlin engine?

The Merlin family of reusable rocket engines were designed for use with the Falcon launch vehicles, including Falcon 1, Falcon 9 and Falcon Heavy. They use rocket-grade kerosene (RP-1) and liquid oxygen (LOX) as propellants in a gas-generator power cycle. The first stage of the Falcon 9 utilizes nine Merlin engines.

SpaceX has produced four major versions of the engine: Merlin 1A, Merlin 1B, Merlin 1C and Merlin 1D. The current version of the Merlin 1D is capable of producing 981,000 newtons (220,500 pounds) of thrust in vacuum. The Merlin engine combustion chamber is capable of reaching 97 bar (1,407 psi).

Development on the Merlin engine began in 2002.

What is the SpaceX Raptor engine?

The Raptor is a reusable methalox (cryogenically-supercooled liquid methane and liquid oxygen) staged-combustion rocket engine. It's the first full-flow staged combustion rocket engine to have ever been flown and is designed to be used with the Starship launch vehicle.

Producing nearly 2 million newtons (450,000 lb) of thrust, it is approximately twice as powerful as the Merlin 1D engine.

SpaceX began flight testing Raptor engines on the first Starship prototype rockets beginning in July 2019. On August 17, 2020 Raptor set a new combustion chamber pressure record of 330 bar (4,786 psi), surpassing the records held by the Russian made RD-180 engine and prototype RD-701 engine.

Initial design work for the Raptor engine began in 2009, with the first test firing occuring in September 2016.

What is the SpaceX Draco engine?

The Draco is a liquid propellant rocket engine that is used by the Dragon spacecraft as a thruster for attitude control, to perform apogee / perigee maneuvers and orbit adjustments. It produces 400 newtons (90 pounds) of thrust in vacuum. The Dragon has 16 Draco thrusters, which are commonly used to prepare the spacecraft for docking to the International Space Station (ISS) where intricate maneuverability is required. The storable propellant used with Draco - monomethyl hydrazine fuel and nitrogen tetroxide oxidizer - enable Dragon to remain docked with the ISS for a year or more.

What is the SpaceX SuperDraco engine?

The SuperDraco is a liquid propellant rocket engine capable of 73,000 newtons (16,000 pounds) of thrust. Eight SuperDraco engines are used on the Crew Dragon spacecraft as part of the launch escape system. It is capable of moving Dragon 1.6 km (one mile) away from the launch vehicle in under eight seconds. SuperDraco uses the same storable propellant as the Draco engine, it was designed with fault-tolerance in mind and can be restarted multiple times.

Made from the superalloy Iconel, SuperDraco was among the first rocket engines to utilize 3D printing in its manufacturing process.

What was the SpaceX Kestrel engine?

Kestrel was a liquid oxygen (LOX) / kerosene second stage rocket engine for the SpaceX Falcon 1 launch vehicle. It used a pintle architecture, was pressure-fed, low-thrust and optimized for a vacuum. Created in the early 2000s by SpaceX, it was designed to be simple and low-cost. It flew only a few times, with its first flight in 2006 and final flight in 2009.

What was the SpaceX Grasshopper?

Grasshopper was a 32 meter (108 ft) tall vehicle that SpaceX began developing in 2011 to test reusable vertical takeoff and vertical landing (VTVL) rocket technology in preparation for its eventual use with the Falcon 9 rocket. It utilized one Merlin engine with thrust vectoring for maneuverability during flight. SpaceX conducted seven test flights with Grasshopper, experimenting with increasing altitude and lateral movement with each test.

The first Grasshopper test flight occurred on September 21, 2012, with a 1.8 meter (6 ft) hop. The last - and highest - test flight occurred on October 7, 2013, reaching an altitude of 744 meters (2,441 ft). All tests occurred at the SpaceX facility in McGregor, Texas.

How does SpaceX make money?

All of SpaceX's revenue comes from rocket launches: sending satellites, cargo and humans into space.

This is includes what they charge for flying cargo and astronauts to the International Space Station, as well as commercial and government satellite launches. All launches utilize the Falcon 9 rocket family, including the Falcon 9 Block 5 and the Falcon Heavy.

In the future it's anticipated that Starlink and space tourism, as well as potential Moon missions, will become additional business avenues for the company.

What facilities does SpaceX operate?

Along with its headquarters in Hawthorne California, SpaceX has a rocket testing and development facility in McGregor, Texas and a facility in Redmond, Washington for Starlink.

SpaceX operates a primary launch location, Space Launch Complex 40, at the Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida. It was built in 1965 for Air Force Titan missiles.

They operate a launch facility at Launch Complex 39A, at the Kennedy Space Center in Florida. Originally used by NASA for Apollo and the Shuttle.

For military purposes, SpaceX occasionally uses Space Launch Complex 4 at Vandenberg Air Force Base near Lompoc, California.

Does SpaceX have a space tourism service?

Space tourism is not yet offered as a service by SpaceX. The company intends to eventually offer routine commercial flights for private customers, for both Earth and Lunar orbit.

How much is SpaceX worth?

In August 2020 SpaceX raised $1.9 billion from investors at a $46 billion valuation for the company.

Previously SpaceX raised $350 million in capital at a $36 billion valuation in May 2020.

Is SpaceX stock publicly traded?

SpaceX is a privately held company with no near-term plans to file an initial public offering (IPO). Gwynne Shotwell, President of SpaceX, has said the company will not IPO until they are flying regularly to Mars.

The company operates something akin to an internal market for the privately held shares. External shareholders and employees have an opportunity to sell shares roughly every six months. This helps SpaceX retain tight control over the ownership of the company.

Who are SpaceX's competitors?

In the private sector, the following companies are the primary SpaceX competitors: United Launch Alliance (ULA), Boeing, Airbus, ArianeGroup, Northrop Grumman, Lockheed Martin, Aerojet Rocketdyne, Virgin Galactic, Virgin Orbit, Blue Origin, Rocket Lab, OneWeb.

SpaceX also competes, to varying degrees, with with several government space agencies, including: NASA, Roscosmos, China National Space Administration (CNSA), European Space Agency (ESA), Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA), Indian Space Research Organisation.

What is the nature of the SpaceX / NASA partnership?

In 2011 NASA retired the Space Shuttle fleet, removing the ability of the US to launch astronauts domestically. In advance of that, NASA began investing into new launch capabilities in the private sector, as part of a US initiative to create a larger commercial space industry. In 2008 SpaceX was one of the companies chosen by NASA as part of the plan to replace the Shuttle for resupply missions to the ISS. In 2012 SpaceX and NASA agreed to work together on the development of the Crew Dragon spacecraft. In May 2020 SpaceX, working with NASA, successfully revived domestic US astronaut launches.

Where is the SpaceX headquarters located?

The SpaceX headquarters is located in Hawthorne, California, on 1 Rocket Road, where they occupy a 47,380 m2 (510,000 sq ft) facility. Hawthorne is a suburb of Los Angeles and has a population of approximately 87,000 people.

Who are the key executives at SpaceX?

· Elon Musk, CEO.
· Gwynne Shotwell, President & Chief Operating Officer.
· Bret Johnsen, Chief Financial Officer.
· Tim Hughes, Senior Vice President & General Counsel.
· Brian Gower, Chief Marketing Officer.
· Andy Lambert, Vice President, Quality Assurance & Build Reliability.
· Hans Koenigsmann, Vice President, Build and Flight Reliability.
· Brian Bjelde, Vice President, Human Resources.
· Umer Khan, Vice President, Information Technology and Security.
· Patricia Cooper, Vice President, Satellite Government Affairs.
· Jonathan Hofeller, Vice President Starlink, Commercial Sales.

How many employees does SpaceX have?

SpaceX is reported to have between 5,000 and 6,000 employees. In January 2019 the company announced a plan to lay off 600 people from their total workforce, at the time it was said to represent approximately 10% of the company.

Who are the investors in SpaceX?

Elon Musk was the initial investor in SpaceX, providing its early capital. The company has several dozen prominent investors, such as Google (Alphabet) and Fidelity, the two of which invested $1 billion in 2015 for a 8% stake in the company. Other investors include Baillie Gifford, Draper Fisher Jurvetson (DFJ), Founders Fund, Gigafund, Rothenberg Ventures, Valor Equity Partners, Zillow, Ontario Teachers Pension Fund.

Who is on the SpaceX board of directors?

The SpaceX board of directors consists of Elon Musk (SpaceX CEO), Gwynne Shotwell (SpaceX President & Chief Operating Officer), Kimbal Musk, Donald Harrison (Google), Antonio Gracias (Valor Equity Partners), Steve Jurvetson (Future Ventures), and Luke Nosek (Gigafund).

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Last edited September 11, 2020 07:33 UTC
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