Dave has worked in digital strategy for over 10 years and now writes engaging tech content.
As the years have gone by, entrepreneur Elon Musk has undoubtedly become a household name. His broader visions, and not to mention wealth, has helped him to carve out a legendary mark in outer space and the automotive industry alike.
As one of the pioneering minds behind the creation of the innovative, high-tech electric cars company Tesla, Musk has stayed true to his vision in bringing clean, zero-emission products to the motor industry.
His latest and most prevalent project, better known as SpaceX, or Space Exploration Technologies Corporation by its full name was founded in 2002 and is slowly taking commercial space flights to new heights with a vision to colonise Mars.
His sights are set high with a mission to make spaceflight not only a reality but also sustainable and affordable by creating reusable rockets like the Falcon 9 space shuttle. The Falcon 9 is a reusable two-stage rocket and the first of its kind. It is designed with the ability to be able to refly its most expensive parts - a feature that’s impossible to replicate among its modern counterparts.
SpaceX believes that in order to make space access more widely available to consumers, their reusable rocket is a pivotal breakthrough as it will substantially reduce costs. Historically, space launches are very costly. The extortionate expense is primarily down to building a rocket which can only fly on a single mission.
SpaceX wants to eradicate this notion and make their rockets similar to commercial planes. The costs involved in building an aircraft and a rocket can be largely similar. SpaceX wants to be able to use rockets or even parts of it multiple times on different journeys into outer space.
Following the model of commercial planes could help cut the cost of travelling into space by a hundredfold. Most rockets are designed to disintegrate parts on reentry into Earth’s atmosphere. However, SpaceX rockets are crafted in order to not only withstand reentry, but they can also successfully land back on Earth and refly.
For SpaceX rockets to be able to break these challenging boundaries, it has led to the development of new materials and technologies. Designing and manufacturing these types of rockets using innovative new materials means they can also be adopted into other industries making them highly versatile. One of the reasons many rockets are only used once is due to their durability when entering the Earth's atmosphere.
In most cases, rockets are primarily built to survive the strain of space. Most rockets re-enter in a fiery descent as they hit the Earth's atmosphere at almost a thousand miles per hour, at which point, astronauts are reliant on the aeroshell of the rocket to protect them.
Having the ability to develop an aeroshell strong enough to withstand the heat means new materials such as these can be transferred to the motor industry.
Designing and manufacturing cars with highly durable metals and materials could lead to fewer casualties on the road with the prospects of Tesla to become one of the industry's first. Unfortunately, it wouldn't mean indestructible cars, but it would mean more robust cars for families carrying infants or even aeroplanes which can perform better in crashes.
The automotive industry, although lucrative, costs countries millions of dollars in unanticipated accidents while impacting population size. If we take a look at the number of casualties in the graph below, in some European countries, we can see that, although 2019 figures are fewer in size than 2018, the number of deaths per million is still significant:
Using SpaceX technology could radically change these numbers thanks to their durable materials. Introducing similar elements to that of the aeroshell indicates promise, potentially making safer cars. The cross-pollination of technologies between Elon Musk's SpaceX and Tesla motors has already had an impact on the way Tesla is designing cars.
SpaceX engineers are experts at crafting and creating lightweight and advanced material for space rockets, and naturally, some of their expertise have trickled their way down to Tesla's vehicles.
The Tesla Model S is the only car with a chassis made entirely out of aluminium. The benefit of using aluminium is that in its nature, it is a lightweight metal. Using it allows vehicle manufacturers to increase dent resistance by making the body panels of the car thicker while simultaneously being able to lower the weight of the vehicle overall.
Aluminium also improves the performance of a car by allowing it to accelerate better, with better braking power and handling control.
With this in mind, when considering supercars and F1 racing cars, the use of SpaceX technology aluminium could be a real game-changer for performance. When considering its use on an average consumer level, using aluminium will allow manufactures to create safer cars with thicker, more dent resistant panels, keeping everyone on the road safe while being able to reduce accident and insurance rates.
With a keen focus still on reusable energy sources, Elon Musk also has his sights set on solar technology after acquiring Californian based Solar City, making it a subsidiary of Tesla. Solar City has helped to bring affordable solar panel options to consumers in their homes, aiding them in transitioning to a greener way of living.
The bottom line is that although Elon Musk's entrepreneurial endeavours may seem varied and wide-eyed, they have the potential to positively change different aspects of the world as we know it today.
By considering how SpaceX technology could change the future of cars, it gives us a clear indication of how safe the future will be with a positive outlook on sustainability. This has the potential to massively reduce carbon emissions and help to look after the world we live in today.
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