History of SpaceX
In 2001, Elon Musk conceptualized Mars Oasis, a project to land a miniature experimental greenhouse and grow plants on Mars. "This would be the furthest that life’s ever traveled" in an attempt to regain public interest in space exploration and increase the budget of NASA. Musk tried to buy cheap rockets from Russia but returned empty-handed after failing to find rockets for an affordable price. On the flight home, Musk realized that he could start a company that could build the affordable rockets he needed. According to early Tesla and SpaceX investor Steve Jurvetson, Musk calculated that the raw materials for building a rocket actually were only three percent of the sales price of a rocket at the time. By producing around 85% of launch hardware in-house, and the modular approach from software engineering, SpaceX could cut launch price by a factor of ten and still enjoy a 70% gross margin.
In early 2002, Musk was seeking staff for his new space company, soon to be named SpaceX. Musk approached rocket engineer Tom Mueller (now SpaceX's CTO of Propulsion) and Mueller agreed to work for Musk, and thus SpaceX was born. SpaceX was first headquartered in a warehouse in El Segundo, California. The company has grown rapidly since it was founded in 2002, growing from 160 employees in November 2005 to 1,100 in 2010, 3,800 employees and contractors by October 2013, and near 5,000 by late 2015. As of April 2017, the company had nearly 6,000 employees. In 2016, Musk gave a speech at the International Astronautical Congress, where he explained that the US government regulates rocket technology as an "advanced weapon technology", making it difficult to hire non-Americans.
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