Tuesday, September 30, 2014

A SpaceX Tour

Two weeks ago a college friend of my husband's (and by rights, a friend of mine now also—hey Eric!), offered us a tour of the SpaceX facility here in Hawthorne, CA. Since we've both worked in big aerospace in the past (and even gotten to see some space cargo before it launched), we were pretty curious.

The SpaceX facility didn't disappoint. The coolest thing, really, is that right here in the middle of greater Los Angeles, rockets and spacecraft are being made! Real manufacturing. We didn't think that happened in LA at all anymore.

Raw materials come in one door, and rockets go out the other. We got to see people laying carbon fiber and peer at copper chunks that turn into engine parts. We saw our reflection in engines that will get halfway to space, and congratulated our friend on the giant piece of structure he had a part in.

Now, I'm not telling you about any secrets (I couldn't even if I tried), and I'm not going to show you any photos I took (because I couldn't take any). No, the photo here is publicly available on the company's website.

But what I can tell you about is being surprised at the buzzing hive of activity going on—well after eight at night! There were multiple restaurants offering free food and beverages ... and the workers were still there taking advantage of them. There were at least two if not three football-field sized wings of endless cubicles where the engineering magic happens. And yes, we saw Elon Musk's cubicle off in the corner (much larger than your average).

What was really interesting was monitoring my own reaction to the hard work and high energy facility. At first I thought, "This is amazing! How great to be part of making something that's having such an impact on the world!" I still think that.

But then I realized everyone there spends a minimum of 10 or 11 hours at work every day. Then I remembered: I don't want to work that hard anymore! Not unless it's on exploring a different frontier (Kate's world).

In the end, our visit to SpaceX was like a fantastic adventure to a foreign country: a whole different world, really amazing, and nowhere I actually want to live.

But it was pretty damn cool to see the creation of stuff that will go out into space.

(Photo: SpaceX)

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