Dragon visits ScopeX
By Chris Stewart
Perhaps you are wondering how come the ScopeX 2012 garments sported a Dragon mission patch?
Let me tell you a story…
“Once upon a time” (as the saying goes - but to be more accurate on June 28, 1971) a little boy was born in Pretoria. He had big dreams. His name was Elon Musk. At age 10 he bought his first computer. Within 2 years, he taught himself to program and sold his first computer program, a space game, for the princely sum of around $500. In 1988, at age 17, he ventured out into the wide world all by himself, soon finding himself in the US (the land of possibilities) by way of Canada.
After gaining a bachelor’s degree in Economics, he quickly followed up with one in Physics. He was particularly drawn to three areas of interest: the Internet, Clean Energy, and Space. In 1995 with his brother Kimbal, he started Zip2, a company which provided online content publishing software for news organisations. Four years later this was sold for $307M in cash and $34M in stock options. In 1999 he co-founded X.com, an on-line financial and payment company, which he merged a year later with a similar firm, Confinity. The combined entity became known as PayPal and in 2002 was acquired by eBay for $1.5billion in stock.
Later that year, Elon founded his next company, Space Exploration Technologies (SpaceX) to develop, manufacture and operate space launch vehicles. ScopeX was 1 year old by then.
The company's first two launch vehicles are the and Falcon 9 rockets and its first spacecraft is Dragon. On 23 December 2008, SpaceX was awarded a $1.6 billion NASA contract for 12 flights of their Falcon 9 rocket and Dragon spacecraft to the International Space Station, replacing the Space Shuttle after it retired in 2011.
Initially, Falcon 9/Dragon will replace the cargo transport function of the Shuttle and astronaut transport will be handled by the Soyuz. However, SpaceX has designed Falcon 9/Dragon with astronaut transport in mind.
In seven short years, SpaceX designed the family of Falcon launch vehicles and the Dragon multi-purpose spacecraft from the ground-up. In September 2009, SpaceX's Falcon 1 rocket became the first privately funded liquid-fueled vehicle to put a satellite into Earth orbit. NASA selected SpaceX to be part of the first program that entrusts private companies to deliver cargo to the International Space Station.
SpaceX's goals include simultaneously lowering the price of orbital spaceflight and improving reliability, both by an order of magnitude, while creating the first fully reusable orbital launch vehicle. In the coming years, SpaceX will focus on delivering astronauts to the International Space Station, but Elon has stated his personal goal of eventually enabling human exploration and settlement of Mars. In a 2011 interview, he said he hopes to send humans to Mars' surface within 10–20 years.
On May 25, 2012, the SpaceX Dragon capsule docked with the ISS, making history as the first commercial company to launch and dock a vehicle to the International Space Station. The ISS crew were happy to get supplies delivered, and to pack their junk in the capsule to be returned to Earth.
Dragon then made its way home, braving the intense heat of re-entry into the Earth’s atmosphere and splashing down safely.
To commemorate this marvellous achievement, ScopeX asked SpaceX if we could this year use the mission patch for the Dragon spacecraft’s historic mission as an emblem, and permission was graciously granted for us to do so. Wear it with pride to show the world what South African dreamers can do when they set their heart to it.
The story is not quite over. Elon also co-founded Tesla - a company that makes the beautiful Tesla Roadster electric sports car. With his cousin Lyndon, he co-founded Solar City, the largest provider of solar power systems in the United States. He is currently the CEO and Chief Technology Officer of SpaceX, CEO and Product Architect of Tesla Motors and Chairman of SolarCity. Not bad going for our Pretoria boy - and an inspiration to dreamers everywhere.