Elon Musk to Bring Space Manufacturing Under One Roof
SpaceX, the space transport company founded and run by Elon Musk, has begun a new endeavor that they hope could transform the space industry.
In the past, the industry has almost entirely been run by large companies and national governments due to extremely high costs associated with manufacturing. However, SpaceX aims to change that by bringing manufacturing under one roof, theirs.
In Michael Belfiore’s book, Rocketeers: How a Visionary Band of Business Leaders, Engineers, and Pilots Is Boldly Privatizing Space, SpaceX CEO, Elon Musk, compares his idea to that of Henry Ford’s by saying, “You know, Ford didn’t invent the internal combustion engine. But he figured out how to make one at low cost, and that’s the appropriate analogy here.”
The space industry has been known for manufacturing customized items one-at-a-time, which really drives the prices for these items through the roof. Musk’s plan is to bring the manufacturing of rocket engines, rocket boosters, and spacecraft to the same building, such that someone could come in and see Dragon spacecraft in one area, Merlin rocket engines in another, and so on.
Current manufacturing revolves around a single, custom part, which makes for slow production and high costs. But Musk hopes to lower that cost by a factor of ten or more through the mass production of space systems
SpaceX has already been on the forefront of new space technologies and they even showed this earlier in the year when the company released a video on their new CAD and 3D manufacturing technologies.
This technology involves motion capturing and 3D imaging that will allow an engineer to manipulate a virtual rocket engine with just the motion of their hands, making their workflow more intuitive and perhaps even faster than what current CAD tools can offer. They will then be able to send a completed design straight to a 3D printer that will craft the item exactly as it was on the engineer’s computer screen.
SpaceX will begin the manufacturing in a former Boeing 747 assembly plant near the Lost Angeles International Airport, where it is currently working to establish operations.