Enterprise IT Context for the CTO

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SpaceX: History Making Commercial Space Company

You have very likely heard of SpaceX. They have captured our imagination and are being credited with setting us all into a new space era. SpaceX is partnering with NASA to bring us all into the next generation in space travel.

I had an opportunity to talk with a SpaceX intern named Charles, an enthused space fan who started at SpaceX last January. Charles shared with me some of his thoughts and emotions regarding his time at this marvelous company. As an intern he was careful to tell me what you already know, he is not speaking for the company, but still his insights show a bit of the human spirit at work there at SpaceX and some of his personal thoughts are below.

During my tour of the factory floor, I was allowed to get up close and personal with much of the space equipment, including the C1 capsule, which went into space with a wheel of cheese! The floor itself was partitioned off into their own sections so that the engineers would be working together in one corner, while those who worked on the avionics, like my friend here, would have their own room.

“25 people.” he told me. That’s how many people it would take at a minimum to know everything there is about C2. It just goes to show that even with all these brilliant minds, it still takes about two dozen people to be able to fully understand the inner workings of these space capsules.

When I asked about their computer software, it seems the employees were mostly divided. Engineers use Windows, while the flight software people use Linux. The company’s mail system is accessible by mobile devices and many people use their iPhones and Androids for that.  Overall it seems the IT in the place runs really smoothly. I noticed plenty of evidence that gaming is big in house. When folks need to relax there are Xbox360′s everywhere. There is also a Quake game on the LAN.  What a cool place to work.

He was there for the launch of the C2 and its docking at the International Space Station. When I asked him how he felt when it went into the sky, he said he knew that “SpaceX will be put on the map” because of this. He was so excited, he couldn’t help but cheer at the launch, although he said he was quite anxious that they were sending a rocket to space. A rocket that he helped engineer.

He gave me a few ideas that would be the next logical step in spaceflight that, if incorporated in the future, would help us sustain life on other planets. Closed loop ecosystems, high exhaust velocity propulsion, and radiation shielding for colonization were a few things to come to his mind, although he doesn’t know if there would be an elegant solution to the radiation shielding. But I’m sure they’ll find a way.

When I asked Charles if he had anything he’d like to say to our readers, as well as those with interests in the space community, he simply stated, “Everyone should apply for a job here!” From what I saw there, he is absolutely right. As an intern, he’s touched (and even licked! Shh, don’t tell Elon!) more space hardware than a normal person can imagine. Everyone working there is doing what they love, and they believe in their hearts that it is more than important; it is simply intuition.

I will leave you now with a video of Elon Musk giving you guys a personal tour of his SpaceX building! This tour is from before a few of the features were completed, like the Control Room, but it should give a good rundown of how it operates. If you cannot see the video, go here.

This post by was first published at CTOvision.com.

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Bob Gourley writes on enterprise IT. He is a founder of Crucial Point and publisher of CTOvision.com