If I had been asked to imagine the construction of space rockets a few years ago, I would have envisioned scientists in isolated, clean rooms, dressed from head to toe in protective suits, working with high-tech devices, almost as if they were meditating.
This scene can actually occur in NASA's scientific projects. But it's certainly not an accurate description for SpaceX's facility in Texas. Actually, the reality is exactly the opposite. If NASA's space programs are classical music, SpaceX's is in the heavy metal category.Starbase started with lines drawn on the sand on the beach of Boca Chica, in one of the most pristine areas of the USA. At first the work looked so amateurish that the first prototype of the Starship was mistaken for a water tower by observers.Elon Musk is associated with high technologies such as electric vehicles, artificial intelligence, chips in the brain, machines that make machines. Boca Chica, on the other hand, initially seemed far from the edge of technology.
Tesla's experience at the Fremont factory may have changed Musk. There, he wanted to make the production system as human-independent as possible and handle it with robots. He experienced that a simple task for man, such as connecting two hoses end to end, can still be very difficult for robots.In the manufacturing crisis at Tesla, he learned to correctly assess the strengths and weaknesses of humans and machines. Maybe that's why there was no claim to solve the problems with robots in Starbase.He made maximum use of manpower. He did not spare the machine support, including the world's largest cranes. Once a prototype was ready, he implemented a rapid development program in which many components related to the final vehicle had already changed.
He threw away carbon composites, which were expensive and difficult to produce. Instead, he switched to stainless steel, which is not that cool but is both cheaper and, under certain conditions, more durable than carbon.
Today, the Boca Chica Starbase is a facility where engineers and blue-collar workers who are not afraid to get their hands dirty work hard to build the future. People built the largest rocket in history, not in clean rooms, but next to mosquito-infested wetlands.All these developments are not taking place in secluded military areas, but next to a public beach. A large social media ecosystem has emerged, fueled by watching activities on Starbase, and the increased interest of young people in rocket science will perhaps be the biggest gain of these process.
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