Despite its unprepossessing exterior, this SpaceX facility is ground zero for a possible revolution in space access. (credit: Ken Gosier, Space Frontier Foundation)
[Editor’s Note: Sam Dinkin recently went on a tour of SpaceX’s facilities in El Segundo, California, as part of a group that won the tour in a silent auction at last October’s Space Frontier Conference. The tour was recorded with the permission of SpaceX. The following is the first part of an edited transcript of an interview that took place during the tour.]
The Space Review: So you’ve had some big announcements this last year.
Dianne Molina, Marketing Manager, SpaceX: Absolutely. It was a very eventful year, great year in terms of developing business as well. A lot of huge milestones. Doing a couple full durations down in McGregor, [Texas, at the SpaceX testing site, ] doing a full launch dress rehearsal up at Vandenberg [Air Force Base, California].
TSR: Did you get out to Kwajalein [atoll in the South Pacific where SpaceX has built a launch facility adjacent to a US military tracking station]?
Molina: I didn’t. We went back and forth, part of it, with Elon [Musk], different folks. I personally learned so much being up at Vandenberg and just seeing, understanding the whole process: the fallback process, the folks in the control room.
TSR: All the SpaceX watchers learned a lot more than we expected to about the different aborts.
Molina: Yeah, definitely. And we did in person. Yeah, it was a great test run of the new vehicle, on a new launch pad, new ground support equipment. So it was a great learning experience.
TSR: Everyone is wondering which pad’s going to be first and pretty soon we’ll be wondering which rocket’s going to be first.
Molina: You’ll know probably by the time you run the story. I think it’s a fascinating situation what’s happened at SpaceX in terms of the perception of lateness. It’s still one of the fastest rocket developments in history.
TSR: And cheapest.