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Inside the Tech of SpaceX's Homegrown Rocket Engine 82

Posted by timothy
from the see-fig-1 dept.
An anonymous reader writes with this excerpt from a look at the engine behind SpaceX's Falcon rocket, the Merlin: "The rockstar of SpaceX may be Elon Musk, but the lead man behind the fire power is Tom Mueller. He is the Vice President of Propulsion Development and founding employee at SpaceX. Musk sought Mueller out in 2001 when Musk decided to build his own rockets instead of buying some from the Russians. Musk caught wind of a rocket engine Mueller built in his garage and 'apparently had a religious experience' once he saw it. If you didn't know, Elon Musk used $100 million of his Paypal money to start SpaceX. That money was used to build the Merlin engine Mueller had designed. The Merlin engine is the first new American booster engine in ten years and only the second in the last 25 years."
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Inside the Tech of SpaceX's Homegrown Rocket Engine

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  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday January 15, 2013 @10:40AM (#42590911)

    And not with a paid team working on a pay check.

  • by necro81 (917438) on Tuesday January 15, 2013 @01:06PM (#42593047) Journal

    Mod parent up; I already posted in thread, so I can't.
    We'd already be mining the moons of Saturn if atomic drives hadn't been scuttled.

    Your endorsement falls flat when looked at in context. You are talking about atomic drives: hot gasses or ion propulsion from a fission reactor. The parent was talking about harnessing the power of the sun. Grandparent was talking about the difficulties in creating antimatter. Y'all need to get on the same page!

  • by erice (13380) on Tuesday January 15, 2013 @03:00PM (#42594871) Homepage

    I'm not an expert on rockets, and don't know if your comment is true or hyperbole. But it seems that the more modern designs costs 2x or more what SpaceX does to get to LEO. [] How can such a horribly inefficient design cost so much less to fly?

    There is no such thing as universal efficiency. A device/design is efficient if it uses less of whatever you desire to conserve. A rocket that is more mass efficient or more fuel efficient may not be cost efficient.

  • by Bo'Bob'O (95398) on Tuesday January 15, 2013 @03:51PM (#42595569)


    Just off the top of my head: Teflon (dupont), the transistor (Bell Labs), the GUI (Xerox Parc), the blue LED (Nichia). The list goes on and on of things that have been major game changers that came from a group of smart people getting a paycheck putting their heads together or building on each other's work on something new.

    That's not to say that there aren't impediments to innovation today, be it short sighted investors or patent issues, but a great deal of big innovations, if not many of the biggest in the last 100 years have come from academics on grants and guys on salaries. What seems to be special about SpaceX is that those are the guys that seem to be the focus in the company rather then much larger (less flat) companies that are mostly about managing management and pleasing investors.

If I'd known computer science was going to be like this, I'd never have given up being a rock 'n' roll star. -- G. Hirst