Things Get Difficult for SpaceX | Elon Week
Elon, after suffering 2 failed attempts was desperate to get the third one right. Burning through his cash, he knew that this attempt could be his last chance.
Elon asked all his employees to insure success this time. All were highly devoted to get it running this time. 2 failed attempts were spiced up by media and the Silicon Valley’s local blog Valleywag. His image of a good CEO was spoiled to some extent.
The 3rd Falcon 1 flight was about to be launched. This time at T-0 Falcon 1 lifted off again. 180 seconds on and everything was perfect to each inch. Merlin separated and second stage ignited, a sudden unexpected thrust in Merlin lead to bumping of Merlin in second stage.
Musk had now burned a 100 million dollars, and had next to nothing achievements in hand. Musk knew he couldn’t afford a 5th launch and it was there last chance. This time with even great devotion, 7 days a week, 20 hours a day, Elon was fearful and excited. This time the excitement in office was little faint, for the fact that 3 launches had demotivated them.
The 4th time, they decided to have a dummy 180 pound payload instead of actual satelite, because no one wanted to see another satellite burn or go in to water.
They hired a private jet to carry the body to Kwaj this time. While lowering down the plane for landing, they realized that cabin pressure was acting on body. They could here screws, and crackling noise. Plane was taken up, and they had 30 minutes to act. They found a tool kit to take help of.
They removed some screws and cut down some body to insure air movement. Plane landed, and atleast body could be saved. Though the screws removed and body cut to accomodate air pressure needed to be repaired.
Unlike NASA where any repair work would have required bringing back the craft, In SpaceX, environment was different engineers and repair parts were sent to get it fixed. The rocket was fixed and stood upright, launch day the flight was aborted at T-0 seconds due to bad weather, and they tried again the same day. They tried the same day. Elon to relax had gone to disneyland with brother Kimbal and kids. He was able to reach just a few minutes before launch.
This time around Space craft took to air, stage 1 separated properly, and stage 2 was performing it’s six minute burn, and was body was red hot. 6 minutes later the stage 2 turned of as planned, and now they had achieved what no other company had ever achieved, they were the first company to reach space. Elon later motivated employees telling that only major coountries have reached space, and it was never a company thing, but we have done the impossible. We have done what seemed to be impossible.
Elon now had somewhat stopped the negative reputation momentum, now he had to deal with Cash Crunch. He was though highly optimistic and many insta
An engineer named Steve Davis was asked to build “an actuator that would trigger the gimbal action used to steer the upper stage of Falcon 1.” So Davis goes to contractors who tell him they can build one … for $100,000. Musk laughs. “That part is no more complicated than a garage door opener,” he tells Davis. “Your budget is $5,000. Go make it work.” And Davis does, for $3,900. That’s the beauty.
“I don’t ever set intentionally impossible goals,” Musk says. “But I’ve certainly always been optimistic on time frames.”